Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts to be next featured guest on CSN's "Inside Look"

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts to be next featured guest on CSN's "Inside Look"

CHICAGO CUBS CHAIRMAN TOM RICKETTS TO BE THE NEXT FEATURED GUEST ONCOMCAST SPORTSNETS MONTHLY INTERVIEW SERIES, INSIDE LOOK

Inside Look presented by Cadillac, hosted by Comcast SportsNets David Kaplan -- featuring Tom Ricketts to debut Christmas DaySunday, December 25 at 4:30 PM

CSNChicago.com to provide additional web-exclusive coverage of Inside Look, including extended video clips

Chicago, IL (December 20, 2011) Comcast SportsNet, the television home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox, continues to delve into the lives of some of the biggest names in Chicago sports with its candid, monthly, one-on-one interview series Inside Look presented by Cadillac.

Debuting Christmas DaySunday, December 25 at 4:30 PM, Comcast SportsNets David Kaplan hosts an exclusive one-on-one interview with Chicago business mogullifelong Cubs fan and now Chicago Cubs Chairman TOM RICKETTS. Ricketts discusses everything from his days of rooting for the Cubs as a fan, to becoming the owner and chairman of one of pro sports most popular franchises, bringing Theo Epstein to the northside to run the baseball operations, his thoughts on the 2012 Cubs and much more.

In addition, viewers are urged to check out Comcast SportsNets website, CSNChicago.com, for additional interview content never before seen on TV. Fans will also be able to watch every Inside Look guest interview online after it debuts on Comcast SportsNet. Comcast SportsNet will also re-air Inside Look with Tom Ricketts on the following datestimes: Sun, Jan. 1 at 5:30pm; Sun, Jan. 8 at 9:30pm; Fri, Jan. 13 at 11:30pm; Sat, Jan. 14 at 7pm; Thu, Jan. 19 at 8:30pm; Sat, Jan. 28 at 7:30pm and Mon, Jan. 30 at 7pm

Note the following quotes from Inside Look with Tom Ricketts presented by Cadillac, premiering Christmas DaySun, Dec. 25 at 4:30 PM exclusively on Comcast SportsNet:

RICKETTS on if he would have changed anything when he became Cubs chairmanwith the knowledge he has now:

I dont think we wouldve done much differently. If you go back to those first couple of days, a lot of people wanted some quick decisions, particularly with baseball. I think they expected an owner to come in and change out the GM and go in this new direction and have some kind of bold plan, and in our case, it was my decision that I think whats best for us is to really get to understand what our strengths are in a baseball organization, what our weaknesses are, be fair to the people that are here, and really get to know the baseball organization better.

RICKETTS on the much-publicized Theo Watch, in particular, the Starbucks sighting:

Well, the funny part is that it was part of our Secret Agent Man-type stuff. He (new Cubs President, Baseball Operations Theo Epstein) was sneaking in for the weekend, and we were very careful about who picked him up from the airport and all these things, and, of course, no plan survives that much secrecy. His wife wants an ice coffee and he hops out to get it and, of course, bumps into someone who recognizes him, so I guess we didnt have to be that secret because everybody found out anyway. Thats just the way it happens, just kind of a funny thing.

RICKETTS on his public perception and staying true to his goals:

I dont really follow too closely what the perception is. All along, we started off with this day one is square one for everybody in the organization. Jim (Hendry) had that ruleCrane (Kenney), whos running the business side had that ruleon the business side, weve done well. Im talking to Crane about extending his contract. Were going to have him as part of the organization for a long time, locking down our business side. On the baseball side, we werent getting it done. We think we gave Jim a fair shot, but when it looked like it wasnt going to be where we needed it to be, we had a great conversation and just decided to part ways and that got the process started.

The period between when Jim left and when Theo came in was a little awkward, because you couldnt really tell people what you were doing, but there was never a moment where I didnt really feel like we had it under control. I think the only moment when I was a little nervous was when if we could ask the Red Sox for permission, and its entirely likely, its possible they could say no, and then wed have to go on and look for another candidate, and thats embarrassing because that candidate obviously wouldnt be the first choice and you cant keep those kind of requests secret. But we just hung tough, consistentand played through it, and I think wed done as best as we could.

RICKETTS on if he believes the 2012 Cubs will be competitive:

Well, absolutely. You look at a lot of the turnarounds in baseball over the last few years. Teams that have lost 90 games and have come back and won 90 games. You get the right 25 guys in that clubhouse with the right manager and everyone stays healthybaseball, its a lot of parity, you come back and you stay healthy, you get off to a good startthen absolutely were back in the hunt.

Relentless Cubs offense knocks out Gerrit Cole in win over Pirates

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Relentless Cubs offense knocks out Gerrit Cole in win over Pirates

PITTSBURGH — Relentless is the word the Cubs keep using to describe a lineup that knocked out Gerrit Cole on Monday night with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates already trailing by two runs at PNC Park.

Relentless could also be a label for Theo Epstein’s front office, even after spending almost $290 million on free agents and even with an 18-6 record that’s the best in baseball following a 7-2 win over the Pirates.

Because the Cubs want nothing to do with the randomness of another one-game playoff and can’t take anything for granted with 85 percent of the schedule still remaining.

Not that Epstein needed a reminder, but the president of baseball operations flashed back to last year’s National League wild-card game when he flew into Pittsburgh, checked into the team’s downtown hotel across the Roberto Clemente Bridge and went running along the Allegheny River.

From his hotel room, Epstein could sort of see where Kyle Schwarber’s two-run homer off Cole flew out of PNC Park last October. Even with Schwarber recovering from season-ending knee surgery, the Cubs still roughed up Cole for six runs.

“We’ve played really well,” Epstein said, “but I don’t think we’ve completely locked in yet or clicked in all facets of the game. Our pitching staff’s really been carrying us. It’s been the most consistent part of our team yet. As it warms up here, I think the bats will get going and they’ll probably carry us for a while.

“But as far as needs that we might have, or ways that we can get better, we’re always assessing that. I think there’s lots of different ways we could potentially improve the club before the end of the season.”

The Cubs will watch Tim Lincecum’s upcoming showcase in Arizona because they always check in on potential impact players at that level. Lincecum — a two-time Cy Young Award winner who helped the San Francisco Giants win three World Series titles — is making a comeback after hip surgery.

While the Cubs should have big-picture concerns about their rotation and a farm system that hasn’t developed the arms yet, Jason Hammel is making his own comeback. Hammel (4-0, 1.24 ERA) gave up two runs across five innings before four relievers combined to shut down the Pirates (15-11) the rest of the night.

After beating up on the division’s have-nots and going 8-1 against the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers, the Cubs should have a better idea of where they stand after Joe Maddon’s “Minimalist Zany” road trip to Pittsburgh and a four-game series against the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field.

“There’s always the threat of somehow playing to the level of your competition in a negative way,” Maddon said. “I’m not denigrating any team that we’ve played to this point. That is not my point. But if you play teams with less-than (.500) records and maybe they’re not playing as well, you don’t turn that dimmer switch up to the full velocity. But when you’re playing really good teams, I think that naturally brings out the best in you.”

Jake Arrieta is the wild card in budding Cubs-Pirates rivalry

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Jake Arrieta is the wild card in budding Cubs-Pirates rivalry

PITTSBURGH — Jake Arrieta felt so locked in, so prepared for the biggest start of his life that he trolled the Pittsburgh Pirates on Twitter, telling their fans that the blackout atmosphere at PNC Park wouldn’t matter.

The Cubs will never forget that epic performance during last year’s National League wild-card game, how Arrieta walked the walk in a complete-game shutout. His young son, Cooper, even helped pour champagne into his mouth during that wild postgame celebration, creating another memorable snapshot.

If Arrieta is going to become a true villain in Pittsburgh — and the Cubs and Pirates are going to reach another boiling point and turn this into a great rivalry — then it probably won’t happen during the first week of May while the Penguins are still alive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But Arrieta’s starts have already become must-see TV, and the Pirates will get another up-close look on Tuesday night at this beautiful waterfront ballpark.

"Their fans are good," Arrieta said. "They’re passionate about their team and their guys, so it’s something that I enjoy. I don’t expect them to be my biggest fan — or a fan of me at all — but that’s the nature of fans and the fans that really support their team.

"That’s the whole point of social media — to interact. Sometimes it’s well received. Sometimes it’s not. But that was the intention there — to fire people up — and I think that’s exactly what I did."

Arrieta looked a little drained during the next two rounds of the playoffs, beating the St. Louis Cardinals (while seeming to lose his air of invincibility) before the New York Mets swept the Cubs out of the NLCS.

There hasn’t been any sort of hangover for Arrieta, the first NL Pitcher of the Month for three consecutive months after a dominant April that saw him go 5-0 with a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds and only two runs allowed across 36 innings.

As manager Joe Maddon likes to say, the reigning Cy Young Award winner is embracing the target.

"When you’re at the top of your game, when you’re one of the teams to beat, it’s just something that comes with the territory," Arrieta said.

Arrieta’s meticulous routine and laser focus mean he doesn’t experience a flood of special memories as soon as he sees the bridges, the black and gold and the Pittsburgh skyline. Or at least he won’t admit that now.

"Well, when you bring it up, yeah," Arrieta said. "That was a neat experience, something that was huge for us as a team and for the organization. But it was short-lived.

"We moved on and had to play the Cardinals and the Mets and our season was cut a little bit short. But we’re in a better spot now this early in the season. We like where we are."

That would be in first place in the Central, with the best record in the league and no interest in dealing with the coin-flip nature of the wild card.

"When you play 162, and then you have to fight it out in one game to move on or go home, it’s a situation that nobody really wants to be in," Arrieta said. "The goal is obviously to win the division. And getting off to a hot start is the way you go about doing that. We’re where we intended to be at this point in the season."

Antrel Rolle blames Bears practice field for knee injury

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Antrel Rolle blames Bears practice field for knee injury

Antrel Rolle has been around the NFL long enough to know this is sometimes how it goes.

The Bears released the 33-year-old Rolle one day after selecting three defensive backs in the 2016 NFL Draft. Rolle played just seven games in the first season of his three-year deal, while dealing with ankle and knee injuries.

He joined 670 The Score on Monday to discuss a number of topics surrounding his release. Among his comments, Rolle blamed the playing surface at Halas Hall, the Bears' practice facility, for the knee injury that ultimately ended his season.

Rolle, still dealing with an injured ankle that had limited him early in the season, injured the knee on the final play of practice on the Friday before the Bears' game against the Denver Broncos.

As he explains:

"I was pretty much shuffling...and I tried to change direction and I slipped on the surface, and because of my ankle and because of the tape the only thing that was able to give was my knee. So my knee had to take a lot of the force and the impact, and even the doctor said it was very unsual to find a tear that I had with a non-contact injury. But it was because of all the pressure and force on my knee because my ankle couldn't really give.

"I think the surface had a whole lot to do with it. It happens.

"The facilities are good in Chicago. The fields are just not as good. I don't know the reason behind it. I don't know how the maintenance and upkeep works in Chicago. But it's real hard to maintain and just be stable under those conditions. But I'm sure they'll try to work and fix it. I always knew Soldier Field (playing surface) was bad. I just never knew that the facitlities were just as bad."

Rolle plans on playing in his 12th NFL season, and believe he's capable of much more than he showed in his limited time with the Bears. Now a free agent, Rolle said he has a chip on his shoulder and is hoping whichever team he signs with plays the Bears in 2016.

"I know who I am as a player. I know who I still am as a player and what I can contribute. It's just unfortunate that it won't be (in Chicago).

"It's all good. I'll find a way and I'll make the best of it. And whatever team i play (for), I hope chicago's on the schedule."