Word on the Street: Round 2 for Cutler and Cavallari

Word on the Street: Round 2 for Cutler and Cavallari

Monday, Sept. 26, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Cutler and Cavallari are at it again

Last week's flirtatious tweets left the public questioning whether Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and reality star Kristin Cavallari were back together. Well, the suspicions are back for round two.

Cav wished Jay good luck, sporting her Bears hoodie in a photo she posted yesterday. Cutler once again used the term 'babe' when sending words of encouragement before she headed to Dancing with the Stars. (@JayCutler6,@KristinCav)

Fans question Brenly's role in 2012

Bob Brenly's job as the Cubs' broadcaster has left many wondering if he sees himself back in the dugout. He's been at Wrigley to see it all, and his critical style behind the mic with partner Len Kasper makes them a spectator's favorite.

A former World Series-winning manager, Brenly seems to be a very possible solution to the Cubs' poor record. Right now Brenly's under contract to be involved in television work and says he has no plans to pursue any of the team's openings. (HardballTalk)

Knox's wild play that didn't count

Johnny Knox not only stunned the crowd in yesterday's game, but even got the attention of Aaron Rodgers who called it the "most incredible play I've ever seen." Knox's kick return touchdown did not count, but was more than worthy of additional mention.

The brilliant plan: The team makes you think the return is going left, then sends a returner after the ball on the right. If you missed the excitement, check it out here!
(ProFootballTalk)

Hawk Harrelson, Steve Stone rip "Moneyball"

Nothing but negativity seemed to come from the two when discussing the new movie, "Moneyball." Harrelson calls Beane's approach "bull----" and was quick to point out the team did not win anything. Stone chimed in, asking if certain negative issues were included in the flick.

Keep in mind they have not read the book or seen the movie. (HardballTalk, CSNChicago)
Winter Classic to take place in Philly

The NHL has officially announced the 2012 Winter Classic will in fact take place in Philadelphia, showcasing the Rangers-Flyers rivalry. For many of you this is not new information, as this horribly kept secret leaked a while ago. But at least now we have a 100 confirmation to see the teams go head-to-head on Monday, January 2. (ProHockeyTalk)

Could Crawford face sophomore slump?

Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford proved to be more than ready for the pros as he took over Marty Turco's starting position last season. But now that he's not fighting for a roster position, will he have the same drive we saw and respected?

Crawford explains that even though a contract is in place, it's still important to prove yourself to your team as early as training camp. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville expects the starter to perform even better than last year. (ProHockeyTalk)

Sharp returns to the ice

Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp has returned to the ice after an emergency appendectomy on Sept. 12. He'll be practicing in his own skatearound the next two days before being assessed by the team.

Coach Q and the team are hopeful Sharpie will be back in full swing by the start of the regular season on Oct. 7. (ChicagoTribune)
Illini earn bragging rights

Illinois kicker Derek Dimke and running back Donovonn Young each earned Big Ten player of the week awards after the team's victory against Western Michigan.

Dimke took spectial teams player of the week for making field goals from 39, 35 and 21 out, and topping off the days with kicking the game-winning points. Young won freshman of the week, following teammate Houston Bates' recognition after opening weekend. (ChicagoTribune)

After winter of taking heat, Cubs still have Joe Maddon's back

After winter of taking heat, Cubs still have Joe Maddon's back

MESA, Ariz. — It only took 21 minutes into spring training — or the first press conference on the day pitchers and catchers officially reported to Arizona — before Joe Maddon listened to another question about all the heat he took for his World Series Game 7 decisions.

More than 2,000 miles away at Yankee camp in Florida last week, Aroldis Chapman told the Chicago Sun-Times that he "was just being truthful" when he used the conference call to announce the biggest contract ever for a closer — five years and $86 million — to inform the New York media that Maddon misused him during the playoffs. Nothing lost in translation there.

Miguel Montero finally declared a ceasefire on Monday night, getting the sit-down meeting the Cubs felt should go longer than the standard meet and greet after the veteran catcher's jarringly critical comments on WMVP-AM 1000 (if only because it happened on the same day as the championship parade and Grant Park rally).

"It's such an unusual situation," general manager Jed Hoyer said, "because we won the World Series, and theoretically you think that people would be really happy."

As ex-Cub manager Dale Sveum might say: "Ya think?"

Ending the 108-year drought might lead Maddon's Hall of Fame plaque someday, but it also led to waves and waves of second-guessing and speculation about how it might impact his clubhouse credibility. But with Maddon and Montero declaring their Andreoli Italian Grocer summit a success, gonzo strength and conditioning coordinator Tim Buss cruising onto the field in a Ferrari for the first wacky stunt of 2017 and Cactus League games beginning on Saturday, it's time to remember that the Cubs still have their manager's back.

"Everyone says they don't see or read anything," pitcher Jake Arrieta said. "We see and hear a lot of the stuff. But I just think that critics are going to find holes in something always.

"Joe was our leader all year last year. He obviously set the tone in spring training and gives us all these freedoms that help us play the way we played. So the people that matter — and know what Joe's about — are on the same page with his philosophies.

"The way he expresses himself to us is the most important thing. And we stand behind him. We trust that he's going to do what's in our best interest. And we know that any decision he makes is geared towards trying to help us win."

Within the last two seasons, the Cubs have won 200 games, five playoff rounds and their first World Series title since the Theodore Roosevelt administration. Maddon readily admits that the scouting and development wings of Theo Epstein's front office did most of the heavy lifting and credits the strong coaching staff he largely inherited. Spending more than $475 million on free agents like Jon Lester and Ben Zobrist certainly helped.

But all this doesn't happen without Maddon and the environment he created. The Cubs Way absolutely needed a ringmaster for this circus.

Arrieta developed into a Cy Young Award winner. Kyle Hendricks transformed into an ERA leader. Kris Bryant burst onto the scene as a Rookie of the Year and the National League MVP. Addison Russell became an All-Star shortstop by the age of 22. Maddon didn't prejudge Javier Baez, immediately appreciating the dazzling array of skills and super-utility possibilities.

Surprised by the Maddon backlash?

"Yes and no," All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. "Because there needs to be a story. But what he did — people who are real involved know that since Day 1, he came in and he set the tone.

"He completely flipped the way people think, the way we believe, and everyone has bought into it. The credit he deserves — he gets a lot of it — but I don't think he gets enough of it. Because he lets me be me. He lets Javy be Javy.

"Willson (Contreras), Kris and Addie — everyone has their different personalities. He understands that. And it's not easy to do."

It's such an impossible job, at times, that even Cubs officials and players have acknowledged their frustrations with some of Maddon's in-game decisions and communication gaps. This can't just be written off as a media creation. But imagine the grumbling if the Cubs didn't have a leader with seven 90-win seasons and three Manager of the Year awards on his resume.

"We have a competitive group of guys," Hoyer said. "Every guy wants to be on the field at the right time. Every guy wants to be on the roster. Every guy wants to pitch in winning games.

"That's not realistic sometimes. It comes from a great place. It doesn't come from a place of selfishness. It comes from a place of: 'I want to contribute to winning.'

"The meetings we've had have been awesome. Our camp is unbelievably focused. We are just as focused as last year. I really don't look at it as a negative."

The last word from Maddon, who turned 63 this month and has a $25 million contract, a wide range of off-the-field interests and the championship ring that will make him a legend in Chicago forever, no matter what kind of heat he took this winter.

"Stuff like that doesn't bother me at all," Maddon said. "Regardless of what people may have thought — like any other game that I worked all year long — I had it planned out like that before the game began. So it wasn't anything I tried to do differently game in progress. Had I not done what I thought I was supposed to do — then I would have second-guessed myself.

"So, no, I have no problem with that. I really don't mind the second-guessing from anybody. I kind of encourage it. Please go ahead and do it, because I'll take that kind of second-guessing after winning a World Series on an annual basis. Thank you very much."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Is Jonathan Toews' the Blackhawks' MVP?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Is Jonathan Toews' the Blackhawks' MVP?

Chris Emma (670TheScore.com), Chris Hine (Chicago Tribune) and national college football analyst Anthony Herron join Kap on the panel.  The guys discuss if Jonathan Toews is the Blackhawks’ MVP so far this season, whether a Jimmy Butler trade to the Celtics makes sense and why Rob Manfred is focused on shaving seconds off of the length of games.

Plus with Jay Cutler heading out the door, who will replace him?  And should Northwestern be on the NCAA Tournament bubble after losing again to the Illini?