Is there a moral high ground? Or do we forgive and forget?

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I didn’t think I’d have to write this. Last season when the Yankees were bound to acquire known fire balling reliever Aroldis Chapman from the Reds, I sat and watched as more and more details surfaced of an alleged assault.

Police reported that on October 30th more than a dozen officers were dispatched to Chapman’s home in Davie, Florida. According to police, Chapman allegedly fired eight shots in the garage of his home, as well as choking his girlfriend.

Here’s where we stand: the Cubs on the cusp of acquiring the reliever, in an effort to bolster the pen heading towards the postseason. I’m all for bolstering a roster, but at what cost?

I’m not going to sit here and say that he should “burn” for what he’s done, and I am definitely a proprietor of second chances. Things happen, and I’ll know that we never know all the facts. Here’s where I’m also frustrated though, wondering at what point is enough, you know, enough? Domestic violence is no joke, no laughing matter, nothing to brush off.

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At what point does talent not outweigh mistakes? We’ve seen players time and time again be freed from past demons to continue their careers? I respect a comeback, someone who can understand where they’ve come from, and how they’ve grown. What I don’t respect is someone who can’t acknowledge the fact.

Remember after the Ray Rice incident, how quickly the man became a pariah? Where’s he now? At least at a point where I can see that growth, a man who’s at least attempting to right those past wrongs.

In sports, we idolize those heroes, those big name players, those guys who get it done down the stretch. I grew up with such admiration for athletes, they seemed untouchable. They’re not though, that’s what we as a society need to grasp. Players make mistakes, people make mistakes, it’s one and the same.

I hope all for the best that a man like Aroldis Chapman can be more than a player, be a man who wants to right that wrong. I’m not passing judgement, I’m not against a player who can help a franchise. I’m against an ideal that as an athlete certain things can’t hurt you. Domestic violence needs to be more prioritized, more than it is now. It’s time to not just turn a blind eye to these guys, or girls, it’s something that tears people apart, it’s time to legitimately come together.

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Connor Ulrey @ConnorUlrey

 

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Northside Mailbag

Northside Mailbag

 

  1. Who is your MVP of the first half?

 

Oh man, tough question here. The MVP of a team may not be the person leading every category, but someone essential to the team. In this instance, I’m going with Rizzo. Bryant has been phenomenal, but Rizzo’s progression year-to-year has been outstanding, and his first half to 2016 was nothing less than stellar. Hitting just shy of .300, the first baseman hit 21 home runs in the first half of the season, boasting a .591 slugging percentage and a 1.006 OPS. Rizzo was also walked 50 times…yeah 50 times, and drove in 63 runs. No question in my mind, he’s been the guy.

 

  1. What are the 3 main things you took away from the first half of the season?

 

So many good things, and bad, happened in the first half of the season. It was a great first half, with a bit of a stalled effort near the All-Star break. If I had three takeaways, they’d be these:

  1. The offense, when it’s clicking, puts up runs in a hurry. It’s something to hang a hat on, but also something to be wary of.
  2. The bullpen isn’t what it was last season, with those cracks starting to show later in the first half. The offense needs to build leads to prevent blown games.
  3. Starting pitching has been marginally better, across the board. Despite his late first half falters, Arrieta leads a strong corral of pitchers. Lackey has been Lackey in the first half, Lester seems to be more in tune this season and Hammel and Hendricks have been brighter spots than ever.

 

  1. What are your keys to a successful second half?

 

Let’s put it simply. For success in the second half, it comes down to that win mentality. Offense, defense, pitching, it all comes together. With weak times in all aspects, it’s gonna take a full effort to drive this team deep into the postseason. If this really is the year, the Cubs have to stay focused for the long haul.

  1. Do you prefer Willson Contreras behind the plate or in the outfield and why?

 

Here’s why I like Contreras in the outfield: longevity. The window for great pitchers isn’t large, never really has been. You’d equate it to a running back, when they’re healthy they last a solid amount of years, but it’s tough back there. Contreras is a stud, plain and simple, a player who’s been great this season in his minimal time. Bearing that Montero can rise out of his slump, Contreras could be a great player to play in the outfield most nights, at least until Fowler and Soler are 100 percent.

 

  1. I think Kyle Hendricks is so underrated. What are your thoughts on him this season compared to last year?

 

 

Hendricks has been great, all first half. With a team low 2.55 ERA in the first half, he’s also given up the least amount of homers of the starting pitching staff and is tied with Arrieta for fewest runs. Especially as a fourth to fifth starter from time to time, Hendricks has been a key player. Sustaining that for the duration of the regular season would be big for this club.

 

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Connor Ulrey   @ConnorUlrey

Break can’t come soon enough for Cubs

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We all need a few days off from time to time right? It could be said no team in the league needs it more than the Chicago Cubs.

Losing nine of the last 11 took the wind out of the sails a little bit, albeit ending the first half of the season with a win over the Pirates, and the Cubs need a few days.

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Coming off the heels of four (FOUR) starters in the infield being announced for the All Star game, it’s important for the Cubs players to enjoy the next few days before the all-important back half of the schedule kicks in.

After losing four-plus games in a row twice in the last three series, the Cubs looked gassed, with starting pitching not leading the way like it usually does.

Arrieta went from 11-1 to 12-4 really quickly, and he even knows that he’s not on his game. What’s it going to take in the back half? The Cardinals are creeping back up, still seven games back, and the Pirates are staying relevant enough to compete come August.

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Fowler is finally starting his rehab stint, and it couldn’t come sooner. Coming out of the break, the Cubs start with back to back homestands against the Rangers and Mets, two teams they need to beat if they’re going to break that tough matchup stigma. After that, they hit the road for a winnable series against the Brewers, before visiting the Southside for a series against the White Sox.

The schedule on the back half isn’t getting easier, with great matchups all the way through the last month of the regular season. Home stands against the Giants (the even-year champs) and the likes of St. Louis and Pittsburgh, as well as big road matchups against Houston and LA, the Cubs will need more series wins.

It was a rough last month for the Cubs, but look for the team to refocus their efforts after the break. I wouldn’t expect any less.

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Connor Ulrey @ConnorUlrey

Anthony Rizzo To Host Record Setting Youth Baseball ProCamp


ANTHONY RIZZO TO HOST RECORD SETTING YOUTH BASEBALL PROCAMP

Elk Grove Village, IL – Chicago All-Star First Baseman Anthony Rizzo is set to host the largest one-day Baseball ProCamp in ProCamps history this month. His inaugural ProCamp will host over 420 campers from nine different states.

 

The one-day Citi Anthony Rizzo Baseball ProCamp presented by Jewel-Osco will be held on July 21st at Elk Grove High School. Participants will learn fundamental baseball skills and have the opportunity to meet and interact with the All-Star First Baseman. Each camper will receive an autograph from Anthony and a team photo with Anthony.

 

Rizzo will be on-site to direct the event and will be joined by a selection of prep and college coaches from the area. The camp is open to boys and girls of all skill levels in grades 1-8.

 

The camp’s premier partners are Body Armor Sports Drink and Welch’s Fruit Snacks. The camp’s media partner is ESPN Chicago. Event partners include Everlast, Cincy Apparel, Outback Steakhouse, Hilton, Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation, Papa John’s, Unequal, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

 

Interested campers can join the waitlist at AnthonyRizzoCamp.com.

 

About ProCamps®

Founded in 1998, ProCamps is a best-in-class event management and sports marketing company specializing in developing, managing, and operating camps, appearances, brand activations, and related experiences for professional athletes and coaches in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, PGA, ATP, NCAA, NASCAR, WPSL, MLL and NFHL. ProCamps helps Fortune 500 brands activate and execute more than 175 events across the country to effectively deliver brand messaging to thousands of parents, kids, and coaches via retail promotions, TV/radio/print, social media, and on-site activations.

 

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Marketing Team | ProCamps® Worldwide

4600 McAuley Place, 4th FL, Cincinnati, OH 45242

Office: (513) 793-2267

info@procamps.com | http://www.procamps.com

Northside Mailbag

Northside Mailbag

  1. Should we be hitting the panic button now?

Is it panic button time? I’m still saying no. Am I worried? Extremely. Losing series to teams that a world series contender should win is concerning. The Mets are a team that Cubs fans just want to get out of their mind, and losing another four straight to them doesn’t help. I’m still optimistic, and the series against the Reds should help. To be honest though, as a contender, a team has to stop relying on the series where they can bully teams, like Cincinnati, and win series consistently over the best teams in the league. I’m not panicking yet, but I’m not exactly sitting with no worries.

 

  1. Besides the pitching, did you see any other concerns during the Mets series?

Pitching was definitely the most concerning. The bullpen at this point terrifies me, and I don’t exactly know what the issue is. Run support against the Mets was non-existent, so there’s that. It starts with that pitching though. Starters were chased early (Jon Lester I’m sorry) and games just got out of hand. So I can’t put it all in one category, but it just seemed like overall everything was out of sync.

 

  1. Do you think the Cubs will maintain the number one spot in the NL Central for the rest of the season?

Yes. That’s not unrealistic, no offense to the perennial contending Cardinals, but it’s the Cubs division to lose. If they fix the kinks now, work out the bugs, then they’re fine. It helps being just around the halfway mark and be seeing it now, so they know what to work on. To still lead the division by multiple games before the All-Star break is key, and I see the team coming out of the break hot.

 

  1. What are your thoughts on Jeimer Candelario?

I like Candelario. Bringing him up, however, just kind of seems like a stand in. I’m excited to see his progression, but I’m still kind of iffy on him. I think it’s a good chance for Maddon to see how these young high-projection talents produce. Thank god for Contreras, who’s been great for the lineup, but do I see Candelario shaking up the lineup? No.

 

  1. What do you think will happen when Tommy La Stella and Dexter Fowler are healthy, as far as the roster is concerned? 

I think they fit right back in, maybe not immediately, but the roster needs Dex especially. His hot start paved the way, and it’s been a bit sluggish without him. His production at or near the top of the lineup was pivotal. As for LaStella, I see him being just as productive as before. He’s a great role guy, a do everything type of player. The lineup needs that right now, that’s for sure.

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Connor Ulrey @ConnorUlrey