It’s the first NFL Sunday of the year, and I wonder how much overlap we have at BN in Chicago Bears fandom. That is to say, I wonder how many of you hardcore Cubs fans are also hardcore Bears fans. I don’t really have an NFL team, myself (instead, I do the fantasy thing), but each year I try to get more and more into the Bears.
- Both Dale Sveum and the Pirates were impressed by Jeff Samardzija’s performance last night. Samardzija, himself, seems pleased with how his season wrapped up. “I knew what I needed to do and I knew I had a lot of question marks around myself coming into the year,” Samardzija said, per Carrie Muskat. “I knew where I was going as a pitcher and the direction I was going and wanted to keep improving and get that experience late in games. You really want the staff and everyone to know they can trust you and keep giving you the ball.” Samardzija will be considered as a pinch runner for the rest of the season, and then will be considered for Opening Day next year. Hopefully he once again has the offseason fire that helped transform him into a dominant starter in the first place.
- Catcher Steve Clevenger, who was tossed during Rumble No. 2 against the Nats, was suspended for one game, which he served last night against the Pirates. He suggested he would have done everything the same if it all happened again, because he saw himself as protecting his teammates. I like that, but the video looked a lot more like an angry dude running around a little bit out of control. Not really a big deal either way.
- It appears that others involved in the fracas – bench coach Jamie Quirk, who kind of started things, Manny Corpas, who was also ejected, and Lendy Castillo, whose inside pitch to Bryce Harper ignited the bigger scuffle – will not be suspended.
- Brett Jackson remains day-to-day with his banged-up knee. Dale Sveum sounds a little torn when it comes to Jackson’s balls-to-the-wall style of play. On the one hand, you love the energy and effort, on the other hand you don’t want to lose your center fielder for two months because he tried to make one, singular spectacular play. “That’s the kind of player you want but there does come the risk factor of injury when you do that,” Sveum said, according to Carrie Muskat. “That’s why, with the last couple years with Carlos Gomez playing like that in Milwaukee, they’re bound to get hurt. The speed they create and the running, whether it’s diving on the bases when they’re running, and the fearlessness they have of walls, sometimes it’s just a matter of time before something happens. You don’t take that away from anybody — it’s a gift and a good thing.”
- New Cub Jason Berken – he’s taking Jeff Samardzija’s spot in the rotation – is excited to be in Chicago, having grown up in … Green Bay. Yup, he’s a Packers fan. A season ticket holder, even.
- With Berken, the Cubs’ rotation is now an almost hilarious stew of Berken, Justin Germano, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, and Chris Rusin. Bet you saw that coming in April, eh?