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Cubs Phenom Kris Bryant and Theo Epstein at Odds Over Major League Call-Up

Cubs Phenom Kris Bryant and Theo Epstein at Odds Over Major League Call-Up

Brian D. Kersey(MESA, Ariz.) -- Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant has arguably been the best player in the Major Leagues during spring training. Despite the dominance he's shown at the plate, he's still expected to start the season in the minors.

Bryant is leading all Major League players this season with nine home runs while also hitting .406 and has 15 RBIs.

"I look at it as 'Why not me?' " Bryant said Friday morning. "I think I'm the type of guy that can go out there and do it. I've made it a point of mine to come out here and show them that I can."

This has not come at of nowhere as Bryant is regarded as one of the best minor league prospects in all of baseball. Which could be why the team could ultimately decide to keep him in the minors, for now.

If Bryant makes the Cubs' Opening Day roster, he'll be a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs keep him in the minors till at least mid-April, he won't be eligible for free agency till after the 2021 season.

"I've never put a guy on an Opening Day roster who hadn't played in the big leagues previously. In 13 years, I've never done it," Epstein told ESPN. "I'm not saying I'd never do it, but the general rule, the presumption, is to allow those guys to go out, play, get comfortable, get in rhythm, and come up when you handpick just the right moment for them to have success."

In AA and AAA combined in 2014, Bryant hit .325 with 43 home runs and 110 RBIs.

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Hall of Famer Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks Dies at 83

Hall of Famer Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks Dies at 83

Chicago Cubs/MLB(NEW YORK) -- Ernie "Mr. Cub" Banks died on Friday night, just days before his 84th birthday, the Cubs confirmed. 

Banks was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977 after 19 seasons playing in Wrigley Field.

"Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time," Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs, said in a statement released by the team. "He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I've ever known.

"Approachable, ever optimistic and kind hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub. My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie's life in the days ahead."

Banks made his debut for the Cubs in 1953, as the team's first black player, and hit 512 homers, had 1,636 RBI's, with 2,583 hits during his 19-year run with the club.

Banks ranks first in games played (2,528), at-bats (9,421), extra-base hits (1,009) and total bases (4,706); second in home runs (512), RBI (1,636) and hits (2,583); third in doubles (407); fifth in runs scored (1,305); seventh in triples (90); and eighth in walks (763). 

Banks was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2013.

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Cubs’ Jon Lester Against Newly-Proposed Pitch Clock

Cubs’ Jon Lester Against Newly-Proposed Pitch Clock

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- With Major League Baseball experimenting with a pitch clock for pitchers, Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester thinks its a terrible idea.

"If you [use a pitch clock] you take the beauty out of the game," he said Friday night at the Cubs' fans convention. "There's such a cat-and-mouse game as far as messing up hitters' timing, messing up pitchers' timing."

"Different things that fans and people that have never played this game don't understand. I feel like if you do add a clock it just takes all the beauty away from the game. I think you're going down a path you don't want to go down," he continued.

Major League Baseball will try implementing pitch clocks at the Double-A and Triple-A this season in an effort to speed up the game.

After it was already tested in the Arizona Fall League, it could be coming to the Major League level in the upcoming years.

The penalty for exceeding 20 seconds was a ball added to the hitter's count. Games were shortened by about 10 minutes.

In 2014, the average game lasted 3 hours, 8 minutes.

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Cubs Acquire Outfielder Dexter Fowler from the Astros

Cubs Acquire Outfielder Dexter Fowler from the Astros

Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Chicago Cubs continue to load up this offseason as they've acquired outfielder Dexter Fowler from the Houston Astros.

In exchange for Fowler, the Cubs sent Houston second baseman Luis Valbuena and reliever Dan Straily.

Fowler, who is set to be a free agent following the 2015 season, brings a veteran presence at the top of the Cubs' lineup.

"Our biggest needs were left-handed hitters and guys that get on base. Fowler fits that role for us," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "He controls the strike zone really well. It gives us much needed depth in center field and in the outfield. We felt we were a little unbalanced in our depth in the outfield as opposed to the infield."

"Hopefully we get a much more grinding offense going forward," he added.

In 116 games for Houston this past season, Fowler hit .276 with eight home runs, 35 RBIs, and 61 runs scored.

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Mariners Acquire OF Ruggiano From Cubs

Mariners Acquire OF Ruggiano From Cubs

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- The Seattle Mariners acquired outfielder Justin Ruggiano from the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday for minor league pitcher Matt Brazis.

In 81 games last season with the Cubs, Ruggiano batted .281 with six home runs and 28 RBIs. He also scored 29 runs and had an OBP of .337.

Ruggiano’s best season came in 2012 for the Miami Marlins, when he hit .313 with 13 homers and 36 RBIs. The six-year veteran also swiped 15 bases and had an OBP of .374.

Brazis was selected out of Boston College in the 28th round of the 2012 MLB draft. The right-handed reliever is 8-6 with a 2.89 ERA across three minor league seasons.

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Cubs Sign Reliever Jason Motte to a One-Year Deal

Cubs Sign Reliever Jason Motte to a One-Year Deal

Eliot J. Schechter/MLB Photos via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Chicago Cubs whirlwind offseason continued as they've brought aboard reliever Jason Motte.

ESPN reports Motte has agreed on a one-year deal with the club for $4.5 million.

The 32-year-old Motte had spent his entire six-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals. He served as the team's closer in 2011 when the team won the World Series, and also saved 42 games in 2012.

Unfortunately, Motte dealt with elbow issues prior to the 2013 season and wound up missing the entire season after needing to undergo Tommy John Surgery.

Motte struggled to regain his old form this past season with the Cardinals. In 29 appearances this season, he went 1-0 with a 4.68 ERA, which was his highest mark since his first full season in the majors back in 2009.

The Cubs have reshaped their franchise this offseason so far. Along with Motte, the team also signed starting pitcher Jon Lester and hired Joe Maddon as their new manager.

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Lester Defends Self Against Red Sox Fans Criticisms

Lester Defends Self Against Red Sox Fans Criticisms

Robert Rogers/MLB Photos via Getty Images(CHICAGO, Ill) -- Jon Lester officially signed with the Chicago Cubs Saturday, for six-years, $155 million.

In doing so, he chose not to re-join his former team, the Boston Red Sox; a fact that did not sit well with many of the Fenway Faithful. 

Some fans took to Twitter to voice their displeasure at the perception that Lester only followed the money.

One fan named Peter wrote, "Does money change a man's mind about family? If so, don't call us family. Have respect for you but money was your #1 priority." 

This did not sit well with Lester who took the time to respond with, "It does not, and I'm sorry you feel that way Peter but that couldn't be further from the truth," Lester replied.

Some fans made things a little more personal as another accused, "Red Sox org. and Red Sox Nation supported you unconditionally while you battled cancer, not the Cubs. Your values are messed up."

Lester defended his decision and took the high road.

"I know they did, and I love them for it. Sorry you feel that way but I'd like to think my values are some of my best qualities," Lester said.

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Report: Cubs Sign Jon Lester

Report: Cubs Sign Jon Lester

Robert Rogers/MLB Photos via Getty Images(SAN DIEGO, Ca) -- The biggest pitching prize in baseball signed with the Chicago Cubs, Wednesday.

According to FoxSports.com and ESPN, Jon Lester has agreed to a 6 year, $155 million contract as part of a new look, new attitude club that hasn't won a World Series in over 100 years.

Lester joins new Chicago manager Joe Maddon, who recently came over from the Tampa Bay Rays, in what many are expecting to be an aggressive push towards contending in 2015.

The Cubs have also recently signed starting pitcher Jason Hammel, as well as catcher Miguel Montero.

"We have a nice ball club," Maddon said. "The pitching staff needed to be solidified, Jason Hammel helped do that. Now all of a sudden you get Jon Lester in there, beyond his pitching ability, what it does within the clubhouse among the other guys, when you talk about playoffs and World Series', it becomes more believable."

While the big name, high-priced acquisitions are capturing the headlines, the Cubs future is dependent upon the young talent the team has been developing. The list of players soon to join The Show include infielder Addison Russell, who the team acquired from the A's last season in the Jeff Samardzija deal, slugger Javier Baez, third basemen Kris Bryant and outfielder Jorge Soler.

"Primarily, I think every young Cub, sitting wherever they are sitting tonight, has a stronger believability in what we are doing next year," said Maddon to ESPN after the announcement of the Lester signing.

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Chicago Cubs Acquire Montero from Diamondbacks

Chicago Cubs Acquire Montero from Diamondbacks

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images(SAN DIEGO, Ca.) -- The Chicago Cubs have made the latest move in the MLB offseason, trading for catcher Miguel Montero.

The Cubs traded two prospects to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Tuesday to acquire what many within baseball consider the top catcher at framing pitches.

"It really gives us a solid presence in the catching position," manager Joe Maddon said.

In addition, Chicago will assume most of the $40 million left on the remaining three years of Montero's contract.

"I want to say thank you to the Diamondbacks for 14 years in the organization. I made a lot of great friends and I’m going to miss them all. Excited for the next chapter in my career with a team with so much history and a bright future. See you soon Windy City!" Montero tweeted after the trade was announced.

Montero, 31, has struggled at the plate in recent years. Last season he batted .243 with an OBP of .329. The Cubs will hope he can return to his 2011 form when he was an All-Star, who batted .286 with 15 home runs and 88 RBI.

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Cubs Nearing Deal with Jason Hammel

Cubs Nearing Deal with Jason Hammel

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images(SAN DIEGO) -- The Cubs are close to bringing back pitcher Jason Hammel, a source told MLB.com on Monday.

Hammel went 8-5 in 17 starts with Chicago last year before being traded to the Oakland Athletics at the trading deadline.

Hammel is seeking a multi-year deal and struck out 104 over 108 2/3 innings.

The Cubs are also interested in free agent pitcher Jon Lester, who is weighing his options.

Red Sox owner John Henry met with Lester over the weekend, ESPN.com reports.

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Chicago Cubs Fire Manager Rick Renteria

Chicago Cubs Fire Manager Rick Renteria

Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images(CHICAGO, Ill) -- After one season of work, the Cubs have fired manager Rick Renteria.

Friday, Team President Theo Epstein released a statement praising  Renteria's efforts in 2014.

Epstein's statement added that the opportunity to add Joe Maddon as manager of the team was too good to pass up.

"Last Thursday, we learned that Joe Maddon - who may be as well suited as anyone in the industry to manage the challenges that lie ahead of us - had become a free agent,'' Epstein explained. " We confirmed the news with Major League Baseball, and it became public knowledge the next day.

"We saw it as a unique opportunity and faced a clear dilemma: be loyal to Rick or be loyal to the organization. In this business of trying to win a world championship for the first time in 107 years, the organization has priority over any one individual. We decided to pursue Joe."

Maddon opted out of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays last week.  The contract with Maddon has not yet been finalized.  The Cubs offered Renteria a chance to stay with the organization but he declined.


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Lucroy Sets Record in Brewers Win

Lucroy Sets Record in Brewers Win

Milwaukee Brewers/ML​B(MILWAUKEE) -- With an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth, Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy set the Major League record for doubles by a catcher in a single season with 46. It also gave the Brewers (82-79) a 2-1 lead over the Chicago Cubs (72-89), a score they would later go on to win by.

The record was previously held by Texas' Ivan Rodriguez who recorded 45 doubles in 1996. Lucroy has hit a total of 53 doubles this season with seven of them coming as a first baseman. The All-Star's RBI hit also guaranteed Milwaukee of a winning season.

Wily Peralta (17-11) struck out 13 batters, a career high, in seven innings to pick up the win. Closer Francisco Rodriguez moved into the top-10 all-time in saves, picking up the 348th in his career.

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Kershaw Wins 20th Game, Dodgers Clinch Playoff Spot

Kershaw Wins 20th Game, Dodgers Clinch Playoff Spot

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Despite only throwing five innings, Clayton Kershaw picked up his league-leading 20th win of the season as Los Angeles defeated the Chicago Cubs (68-86) 14-5 on Friday. It was the shortest outing in nearly four months for Kershaw (20-3), who was aided by his offense.

"Obviously, you want to go eight or nine every time and be the reason why your team won," Kershaw said. "But sometimes your team does it for you and you just have to be out there. So that was the way it happened today and I'll take it."

The Dodgers hit four home runs as a team, including two from catcher A.J. Ellis. In total, Los Angeles (88-66) racked up 13 hits against Edwin Jackson (6-15) who was making his first start since coming off the disabled list. 

Los Angeles also clinched a playoff spot with Pittsburgh's 4-2 win over Milwaukee. It's the second straight season the Dodgers will be in the playoffs as they hold a 3 1/2 game lead over San Francisco in the NL West.

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Scoreboard Roundup – 9/17/14

Scoreboard Roundup – 9/17/14

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- MLB: Colorado Rockies 16 (61-91) – Los Angeles Dodgers 2 (86-66)

San Francisco Giants 4 (84-68) – Arizona Diamondbacks 2 (62-90)

Pittsburgh Pirates 9 (81-70) – Boston Red Sox 1 (66-86)

Baltimore Orioles 6 (92-60) – Toronto Blue Jays 1 (77-74)

Miami Marlins 4 (74-77) – New York Mets 3 (73-80)

New York Yankees 3 (77-74) – Tampa Bay Rays 2 (74-79)

Atlanta Braves 3 (76-76) – Washington Nationals 1 (87-64)

Chicago Cubs 3 (68-84) – Cincinnati Reds 1 (71-82)

Kansas City Royals 6 (83-68) – Chicago White Sox 2 (69-83)

Cleveland Indians 2 (78-73) – Houston Astros 0 (67-85)

St. Louis Cardinals 2 (84-68) – Milwaukee Brewers 0 (79-73)

Philadelphia Phillies 5 (70-82) - San Diego Padres 2 (70-81)

Los Angeles Angels 5 (95-57) - Seattle Mariners 0 (81-70)

Minnesota Twins 8 (65-87) - Detroit Tigers 4 (84-68)

Texas Rangers 6 (59-92) - Oakland Athletics 1 (83-68)

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Scoreboard Roundup – 9/16/14

Scoreboard Roundup – 9/16/14

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates 4 (80-70) – Boston Red Sox 0 (66-85)

Baltimore Orioles 8 (91-60) – Toronto Blue Jays 2 (77-73)

New York Mets 9 (73-79) – Miami Marlins 1 (73-77)

Tampa Bay Rays 6 (74-78) – New York Yankees 1 (76-74)

Washington Nationals 3 (87-63) – Atlanta Braves 0 (75-76)

Chicago Cubs 7 (67-84) – Cincinnati Reds 0 (71-81)

Minnesota Twins 4 (64-87) – Detroit Tigers 3 (84-67) 

San Francisco Giants 2 (83-68) - Arizona Diamondbacks 1 (62-89)

Colorado Rockies 10 (60-91) - Los Angeles Dodgers 4 (86-65)

Cleveland Indians 4 (77-73) - Houston Astros 2 (67-84)

Milwaukee Brewers 3 (79-72) - St. Louis Cardinals 2 (83-68) -12 Innings

San Diego Padres 5 (70-80) - Philadelphia Phillies 4 (69-82)

Texas Rangers 6 (58-92) - Oakland Athletics 3 (83-67)

Seattle Mariners 13 (81-69) - Los Angeles Angels 2 (94-57)

Chicago White Sox 7 (69-82) - Kansas City Royals 5 (82-68)


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Scoreboard Roundup – 9/15/14

Scoreboard Roundup – 9/15/14

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- NFL: Philadelphia Eagles 30 (2-0) - Indianapolis Colts 27 (0-2)

MLB: Baltimore Orioles 5 (90-60) – Toronto Blue Jays 2 (77-72)

Miami Marlins 6 (73-76) – New York Mets 5 (72-79)

Tampa Bay Rays 1 (73-78) – New York Yankees 0 (76-73)

Washington Nationals 4 (86-63) – Atlanta Braves 2 (75-75)

Chicago Cubs 1 (66-84) – Cincinnati Reds 0 (71-80)

Houston Astros 3 (67-83) – Cleveland Indians 1 (76-73)

San Diego Padres 1 (69-80) - Philadelphia Phillies 0 (69-81)

Los Angeles Angels 8 (94-56) - Seattle Mariners 1 (80-69)

Arizona Diamondbacks 6 (62-88) - San Francisco Giants 2 (82-68)

Los Angeles Dodgers 11 (86-64) - Colorado Rockies 3 (59-91)

Kansas City Royals 4 (82-67) - Chicago White Sox 3 (68-82)

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Cubs’ Starlin Castro Likely to Miss the Rest of the Season

Cubs’ Starlin Castro Likely to Miss the Rest of the Season

Kent C. Horner/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Earlier this week the Chicago Cubs lost first baseman Anthony Rizzo for an indefinite period of time, and now it has been revealed that shortstop Starlin Castro is likely to miss the rest of the season with a high ankle sprain.

Castro injured himself when he slid into home during the first inning of the team's game against the Milwaukee Brewers. His cleat got caught in the dirt around home plate. An MRI revealed the sprain.

"Right now the prognosis is four weeks to come back," general manager Jed Hoyer said Wednesday. "We're not going to shut him down. His mentality is he can beat four weeks and come back."

After a down season in 2013, the 24-year-old Castro has rebounded quite nicely in 2014. If his season is truly over, he'll have played 134 games this season while batting .292 with 14 home runs and 65 RBIs.

"In my mind's eye he's had a very productive season," manager Rick Renteria said. "He's dealt with a lot of different things very positively. He's worked extremely hard."

Rookie Javier Baez will shift over from second base to shortstop.

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Cubs First Baseman Anthony Rizzo Out Indefinitely

Cubs First Baseman Anthony Rizzo Out Indefinitely

Joe Robbins/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- One of the feel good stories for the Cubs this season might have a rough ending as first baseman Anthony Rizzo is out indefinitely with a mild back strain.

"We're going to be cautious with him," Cubs president Theo Epstein said Tuesday. "It's the type of thing where if it was before expanded rosters he probably would be a DL. With the expanded rosters in September there is no need to DL him. We're going to be cautious and make sure we knock it out. It's nothing chronic, nothing that will bother him long term, but it's just something we don't want to rush back from."

In his second full season in Major League Baseball, Rizzo made his first All-Star team and gave Cubs fans hope for the future.

In 129 games this season, the 25-year-old Rizzo is hitting .278 with 30 home runs and 71 RBIs.

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Scoreboard Roundup – 8/26/14

Scoreboard Roundup – 8/26/14

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates 5 (68-64) – St. Louis Cardinals 2 (71-60)

Baltimore Orioles 4 (75-55) – Tampa Bay Rays 2 (64-68)

Philadelphia Phillies 4 (60-72) – Washington Nationals 3 (75-56)

Detroit Tigers 5 (71-59) – New York Yankees 2 (68-62)

New York Mets 3 (62-70) – Atlanta Braves 2 (68-64)

Chicago Cubs 3 (59-72) – Cincinnati Reds 0 (63-69)

Kansas City Royals 2 (73-58) – Minnesota Twins 1 (58-73)

Houston Astros 4 (56-77) – Oakland Athletics 2 (77-54)

San Francisco Giants 3 (69-62) - Colorado Rockies 0 (53-78)

Cleveland Indians 8 (67-63) - Chicago White Sox 6 (59-72) -10 Innings

Boston Red Sox 11 (58-74) - Toronto Blue Jays 7 (66-66) -11 Innings

Seattle Mariners 5 (72-59) - Texas Rangers 0 (51-80)

Los Angeles Angels 8 (78-53) - Miami Marlins 2 (65-66)

San Diego Padres 4 (61-70) - Milwaukee Brewers 1 (73-59)

Los Angeles Dodgers 9 (75-58) - Arizona Diamondbacks 5 (55-77)

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Scoreboard Roundup – 8/22/14

Scoreboard Roundup – 8/22/14

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- MLB: Chicago Cubs 4 (56-72) - Baltimore Orioles 1 (73-53)

Tampa Bay Rays 8 (63-65) - Toronto Blue Jays 0 (65-63)

Philadelphia Phillies 5 (57-71) - St. Louis Cardinals 4 (69-58)

San Francisco Giants 10 (68-59) - Washington Nationals 3 (73-54)

Houston Astros 5 (55-75) - Cleveland Indians 1 (64-62)

New York Yankees 4 (65-61) - Chicago White Sox 3 (59-69)

Seattle Mariners 5 (69-58) - Boston Red Sox 3 (56-72)

Kansas City 6 (71-56) - Texas Rangers 3 (49-78)

Atlanta Braves 3 (68-61) - Cincinnati Reds 1 (61-68) 12 Innings

Pittsburgh Pirates 8 (66-62) - Milwaukee Brewers 3 (71-57)

Arizona Diamondbacks 5 (54-75) - San Diego Padres 1 (59-68)

Minnesota Twins 20 (57-70) - Detroit Tigers 6 (68-58)

Los Angeles Dodgers 6 (73-57) - New York Mets 2 (60-69)

Oakland Athletics 5 (75-52) - Los Angeles Angels 3 (76-51)

Miami Marlins 13 (64-63) - Colorado Rockies 5 (50-77)

NFL Preseason: New England Patriots 30 (2-1) - Carolina Panthers 7 (1-2)

Detroit Lions 13 (2-1) - Jacksonville Jaguars 12 (1-2)

New York Giants 35 (4-0) - New York Jets 24 (2-1)

Green Bay Packers 31 (2-1) - Oakland Raiders 21 (1-2)

Seattle Seahawks 34 (2-1) - Chicago Bears 6 (2-1)

NASCAR Nationwide Series: Ryan Blaney wins the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway

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