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18.10.2018 06:01
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This story appears in ESPN The Magazines Nov. 28 Tall Ball Issue. Subscribe today!It has been a few weeks now, and the Chicago Cubs are still World Series champions. And if history is any guide, everything familiar about the identity of the fan base and organization will be erased as the price of that title. The Cubs can no longer mask a century of incompetence with curses, afternoon drinking and low expectations. Theyve always had the resources of a superpower -- and now they have to start acting like one.Having witnessed the same shift in Boston, Theo Epstein knows this better than most. After almost 100 years of failure, the Red Sox still do business now the same as they did before winning the World Series in 2004-last winter, they signed David Price to a seven-year, $217 million free agent contract, just as they signed Manny Ramirez to an eight-year, $160 million contract in December 2000. But the national sympathy for their eternal heartbreak is gone. Even before Game 7, there was nothing cute or disadvantaged about the Cubs either, as evidenced by their enviable ability to sign Jason Heyward to an eight-year, $184 million contract-and bench him during the World Series.The Red Sox marketed and sold themselves as a ragtag band of rebels fighting both the supernatural and the omnipotent Yankees. Fans of the Rays, who happened to be the real underdogs, even coined a term for Bostons sly deception, referring to them as the Just as Evil Empire. Chicago, like Boston 12 years ago, can no longer claim the image of underdog on the field-especially since the Cubs are far from underdogs on the balance sheet, where they rake in profits. An identity change is coming, and they should embrace it.In this money game, with no salary cap and limited revenue-sharing, the Cubs, in the third-biggest market in the country, should have been dominant for decades. Instead, they were baseballs family screwup, partying with the trust fund money, winding up on academic probation. The generations of fans desperate for a winner have certainly suffered since 1946, but ownership certainly did not. The Cubs have been one of the richest teams in baseball. The team sold in 2009 for $845 million and in March was estimated by Forbes to be worth $2.2 billion, fifth best in MLB. The lovable loser narrative was lucrative-it sold lots of tickets, beer and T-shirts and allowed an enormous fan base to feel sorry for itself-but in reality, the Cubs were cursed only in one way: by their own ownership mediocrity.Today, they have the opportunity to be the dominant team in the National League-and probably in baseball-for years to come. In Epstein, they have a president of baseball operations who knows how to build a farm system so well he can take big gambles on free agents, and the Ricketts familys enormous resources can help the team survive even a deal like Heywards. With old money but a new-school attitude, baseball wants its teams built the Epstein way, lest they face oppressive luxury tax penalties.You have to embrace the suck, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told me earlier this year. Look at Theo and the Cubs. They had money, but they built the farm system, lost and lost, and told their fan base the payoff was coming. George Steinbrenners way is gone. You cant do it that way anymore. Thats why we made the Aroldis Chapman deal with them. Embrace the suck. Build the contender.The Cubs can now go back to being the power they once were, for from 1906 to 1945 Chicago went to the World Series 10 times and won it twice. But the opportunity to shed the underdog image will come at an enormous cost: the identity the franchise has cultivated for the past half-century as a great place to start the bachelorette party before the North Side pub crawl kicks into high gear.Perhaps Chicagos transition to superpower wont be as harsh as in Boston, where agony was replaced by pink hats, expensive seats and gentrification (though Wrigleyville already has a leg up on the latter). Maybe the team will maintain its old identity even if it dominates, because so many of its celebrity fans are comedians, and because the beer has always flowed during weekday baseball when everyone else is being killed by office meetings. As expectations undoubtedly rise for the Cubs to stay on top, maybe Chicago will do something truly remarkable: win big while still being best known for having a good time. Justin Patton Jersey . They reached the 100-point plateau for the fourth time in five games, bested the visiting Trail Blazers by 34 in the paint and scored 19 of the final 25 points in regulation. Kevin Garnett Jersey . The deal is pending a physical, assistant general manager Bobby Evans said. Traded from Seattle to Baltimore on Aug. 30, Morse also can play first base and right field to give manager Bruce Bochy some flexibility in writing his lineup. . -- Eastern Kentucky thrives off creating havoc for others. Jamal Crawford Jersey . The Croatian served 21 aces and hit 42 winners against Sijsling, who double-faulted to give Cilic a 4-3 lead in the deciding set. "All the players, they know me and they were really happy to see me and they were really happy that this is over for me," Cilic said. Karl-Anthony Towns Jersey . -- About a third of the way through the regular season, the Washington Wizards are at . LOS ANGELES -- With their bats finally catching up to their pitching, the Los Angeles Dodgers are taking a three-game winning streak and a jolt of confidence into the All-Star break.Everybodys swinging the bat really well, said Howie Kendrick, who had three hits in the Dodgers 3-1 victory over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.It took us a little while to get it going. (Justin Turner and Adrian Gonzalez) had a little lull there. (Corey) Seagers been hot all year, but its good to see different guys get it going.Rookie Kenta Maeda (8-6) struck out a career-high 13 over seven innings and held San Diego to a run on two hits, including a solo homer to Derek Norris. He retired 14 of the first 15 batters he faced and struck out six straight near the end of his outing.It seemed like everything played off the fastball, catcher Yasmani Grandal said. He was commanding it, and then he was the same ol Kenta, throwing curveballs for strikes, sliders for strikes, good pitches for changeups. But we kept them honest with the fastball.Gonzalez got his first homer in 25 games to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead in the fifth against Christian Friedrich (4-5). Gonzalez has hit safely in five straight games and is batting .455 over his past 12 games.Kendrick extended his hitting streak to seven games. He doubled and scored in the first and drove in the Dodgers second run with line-drive single in the second. He also reached safely on an infield single in the sixth.Corey Seager, voted into the All-Star Game by the players, continued his hot-hitting with an RBI single in the first. The rookie has hit safely in 19 of his last 21 games, batting .366 during the stretch.The Dodgers fought off an anemic offense early in the season to go into the All-Star break a season-high 11 games over .500.For our guys it was just staying focused on winning each game, and not getting focused on what players are hurt, what people are saying about us, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. There were a couple of stretches in there where we could have gone the other way.Kenley Jansen pitched a scoreless ninth for his 27th save.For the Padres, the three losses to end the first half left them 18-18 since June 1 and headed into the break needing to regroup.I thought it was just bad baseball, Padres manager Andy Green said. Theres nothing else to say. I thought we were somewhat listless offensively.dddddddddddd We had opportunities to square up the baseball and didnt.One Padre did, when Norris drove the first pitch he saw from Maeda with one out in the fifth over the left-field wall for his 12th homer.Friedrich lost for the fourth time in five starts, giving up three runs and seven hits over five innings.BULLPEN SESSIONClayton Kershaw threw 25 pitches off a mound before the game and Roberts said there was definitely encouraging progress in the left-handers rehab from a back injury.The Dodgers have not set a timetable for the three-time Cy Young Award winners return.He will not be in the rotation when we come back from the break, Roberts saidFIRST SERVETennis player and Thousand Oaks resident Sam Querrey threw out the games ceremonial first pitch. Querrey upset top-ranked Novac Djokovic in the third round at Wimbledon on July 2.TRAINERS ROOMPadres: 2B Jemile Weeks (right hamstring strain) continues to progress through his running program. The Padres hope to get him into minor league rehab games after the All-Star break. ... 2B Corey Spangenberg (left quad strain) suffered a setback running on Friday and has been sent back to San Diego to be re-evaluated. ... RHP Tyson Ross (right shoulder inflammation) has suffered a sprained ankle and will see a doctor on Monday. Hes been throwing still, but just cant get off the mound from a stability standpoint with the ankle, Padres manager Andy Green said.Dodgers: Bud Norris, Brandon McCarthy and Maeda are slated to start the first three games after the All-Star break in Arizona, with Scott Kazmir and Hyun-Jin Ryu to go in Washington. ... Long-time Dodger announcer Vin Scully, in his final season at age 88, took a routine day off on Sunday.NEXT UPPadres: Andrew Cashner (3-7, 5.40) will make his third start of the year against the Giants when the Padres open the second half hosting San Francisco. Cashner has lost five of his last six decisions, dating to May 8.Dodgers: Bud Norris (4-7, 3.98) will make his third start in a Dodger uniform when Los Angeles opens the second half in Arizona on Friday. Norris is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA for the Dodgers since being acquired in a five-player deal from Atlanta on June 30. 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