Mike Oz

  • What you need to know before Game 1 of the World Series

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 33 mins ago

    CLEVELAND — The Indians know a thing or two about injuries. Which is why Jason Kipnis’ couldn’t come at a worse time.

    Kipnis injured his ankle while the Indians were celebrating after winning the ALCS. Nobody — not Kipnis nor Indians skipper Terry Francona — thinks it will keep him off the field for the World Series. But a photo of Kipnis’ ankle shared by MLB Network’s Heidi Watney on Tuesday in the hours before Game 1 is at least enough to show you that Kipnis is playing through something ugly.

    ICYMI #Indians @TheJK_Kid grade 2 ankle sprain looks nasty! Said nothing would keep him from playing #WorldSeries  #painkillers #adrenaline pic.twitter.com/tQ0LOINych

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  • How Fox Sports is changing what you think about Alex Rodriguez and Pete Rose

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 hr ago

    LOS ANGELES — Alex Rodriguez was sitting in his seat in the Fox Sports studio, camera tuned on him, making the kind of surprisingly good live TV he makes these days.

    His phone buzzed. It was a text from Charles Barkley.

    “I’m loving the show,” it read.

    When Barkley — a man who has built a reputation for himself as a sometimes-grumpy, always-honest TV star in his own right — likes what you’re doing, something has to be going right.

    And it has. Throughout the MLB postseason, we’ve seen A-Rod transform before our eyes. As one-fourth of the MLB on Fox pre- and post-game studio show, Rodriguez has been showing the baseball-watching world a new side. He’s smart. He’s insightful. He pokes fun at himself. And perhaps most amazingly, he doesn’t come off like a guy who was the most controversial player in MLB for a decade.

    He’s — dare we say it? — likable.

    This week, when the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians meet in the World Series, starting with Game 1 Tuesday night, A-Rod and Rose will be in the forefront of Fox’s TV coverage. And more people will learn about Fox Sports’ great TV trick of the 2016 postseason — it turned two of baseball’s most famous villains into great TV.

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  • Kyle Schwarber will DH for Cubs in Game 1 of the World Series

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 hr ago

    CLEVELAND — The 2016 World Series has its first shocker: Kyle Schwarber is back and will start in Game 1, according to Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

    Schwarber — who tore his ACL and MCL in April — will DH for the Cubs against the Cleveland Indians, a scenario that seemed almost unthinkable just last week when the injured Schwarber was cheering on his teammates from the dugout.

    Maddon made the announcement on Chicago radio station 670 The Score in the hours before Game 1, before the Cubs lineup was officially announced. And when the official lineup came out a short while later, Schwarber wasn’t the only surprise. Chris Coghlan gets the start in right field in place of the struggling Jason Heyward, who is just 2-for-28 this postseason.

    Here is how the Cubs lineup shakes out:

    Jon Lester is on the mound.

    The Indians have yet to announce their lineup.

    Clearly, that’s not why he’s here. He’s not going to steal a base. Schwarber’s big bat can change a game with one swing and that’s reason enough for the Cubs to risk putting him in the lineup.

    More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

  • ‘Major League’ vs. ‘Rookie of the Year’: this year's Indians and Cubs pick sides

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 19 hrs ago

    CLEVELAND — It’s been so long since either the Chicago Cubs or the Cleveland Indians won the World Series that Hollywood stepped in long ago.

    In the 1993 film “Rookie of the Year,” the Cubs got their long-overdue World Series ring thanks in part to a 12-year-old kid named Henry Rowengartner who miraculously could throw 103 mph after breaking his arm.

    In 1989, Cleveland native and filmmaker David S. Ward created “Major League,” a movie that aimed to turn the loser Indians into unlikely champs. The fictional Indians didn’t win the World Series in “Major League” or its sequel, but they won their division in the first movie and the AL pennant in “Major League II.” At that point, the Indians hadn’t done either since 1954.

    So this real-life 2016 World Series has another bit of subtext beyond the Cubs, the Indians and their respective World Series droughts — it’s also the World Series of “Major League” vs. “Rookie of the Year.”

    Very diplomatic answer.

  • Dexter Fowler will have a special place in Cubs' World Series history

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 21 hrs ago

    CLEVELAND — Tucked into all the history that comes with the Chicago Cubs making their first World Series appearance since 1945 is one amazing fact that Dexter Fowler learned about not long after spraying champagne all over the clubhouse.

    When he leads off Game 1 of the 2016 World Series, Fowler is going to be the first African-American to play for the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. Ever.

    That seems like an oddity in 2016, since the days of Jackie Robinson and integration are long behind us. But it’s not an oddity when talking about the Cubs, whose historical postseason struggles are the main storyline of this year’s MLB postseason.

    Robinson played his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, two years after the Cubs lost in seven games to the Detroit Tigers in the 1945 World Series.

    “That’s unbelievable,” Fowler said Monday at Progressive Field.

    “My parents weren’t even alive then,” Fowler says. “That’s a lifetime.”

  • Podcast: Joe Buck explains why he doesn’t actually hate your team

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    This is The StewPod, our baseball podcast with a dash of pop culture. If you dig the show, please subscribe and review us on iTunes.

    The 2016 World Series is right around the corner. While we wait to figure out just who will be playing the Cleveland Indians we know for sure that Joe Buck will be there.

    As Fox Sports’ lead broadcaster, Buck is everywhere, especially during MLB and NFL playoffs. He’s the soundtrack to the modern sports experience for many people. So we had to have him on a brand new StewPod to talk about a number of things, starting with why he hates your favorite team.

    And, big news here, he doesn’t actually hate them, as much as you think otherwise.

    Hear that? You gotta try harder if you want to make Joe Buck cry. We also talked to Buck about how he preps for calling big moments like the final out of the World Series and why he bothers with Twitter.

    [Music: Otis English – “Young Kids, Old Love” ]

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  • Bill Murray crashed the White House press briefing to hype up the Cubs

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    When you’re Bill Murray, movie star and international man of unpredictability, sometimes you just find yourself in the White House on a random Friday.

    Such was the case when Murray crashed the regular White House press briefing and got in front of the mic. He didn’t want to talk about politics, instead his favorite baseball team, the Chicago Cubs.

    Wearing a Cubs pullover with a Cubs cap in his hand, Murray rattled off all the reasons he thinks the Cubs have the best shot to win their National League Championship Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Game 6 is Saturday at Wrigley Field, with the Dodgers sending ace Clayton Kershaw to the mound.

    A sampling of what Murray had to say:

    “Clayton Kershaw is a great, great pitcher, but we got too many sticks … And at home, our crowd, the weather. You get a little bit of autumn in Chicago. You don’t get that in Los Angeles. Trees just die, you know what I’m saying. In Illinois, they flourish.”

    Murray sounds like he’s been studying Cubs skipper Joe Maddon’s book of “How to Sound Cool When Talking About Baseball” — especially with “too many sticks” comment.

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  • The Cubs’ faith in Addison Russell paid off big time in NLCS Game 4

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 5 days ago

    LOS ANGELES — One of the biggest questions the Chicago Cubs faced heading into Game 4 of the National League Championship Series was how to jumpstart their offense and, more specifically, what they should do about shortstop Addison Russell.

    Russell answered both questions in the fourth inning Wednesday in the Cubs’ win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. What should the Cubs do? Give the kid a high-five.

    With one swing, Russell showed why the Cubs were wise to stick with him and he sent Dodgers starter Julio Urias to the showers. Russell blasted a two-run homer to right-center that capped a four-run Cubs rally. It was one of the biggest moments of their 10-2 win, knotting the series at two and guaranteeing it returns to Wrigley Field.

    Before the game, manager Joe Maddon was asked about his faith in Russell and what kind of conversations they’d make the past few days.

    Sometimes you just need a 94 mph four-seamer across the plate.

    More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

  • The one play that left the Dodgers fuming in their pivotal loss to the Cubs

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 5 days ago

    LOS ANGELES — There were three minutes between the final out of the game and when Adrian Gonzalez tapped the “send” button.

    Gonzalez marched off the field, through the bowels of Dodger Stadium, into his team’s clubhouse. He immediately grabbed his phone and made it clear he was still fuming about a play that happened three hours earlier.

    “Somehow this is an out,” Gonzalez tweet said, with a picture attached of the second-inning play where he was ruled out despite his contention that his hand beat the tag. “Take series lead tomorrow. Got to do this. Us against the world.”

    Somehow this is an out. #NLCS Takeseries lead tomorrow! Got to do this. Us against the world. pic.twitter.com/DAM8BRytrT

    — Adrián González (@Adrian_ElTitan) October 20, 2016

    In the Dodgers clubhouse, they were still talking about the tag and the replay and the ruling that they swear was wrong.

    “It’s pretty embarrassing,” said outfield Joc Pederson, whose locker is next door.

    Out. No run. Inning over. Still 0-0.

  • What Vin Scully did instead of attending NLCS Game 4 at Dodger Stadium

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 5 days ago

    LOS ANGELES — Vin Scully isn’t here. Instead, in broadcast booth No. 1 in the Vin Scully press box, his seat is filled by Fox’s play-by-play duo of Joe Buck and John Smoltz.

    Now, this isn’t a surprise, Vin retired and said there would be no postseason assignment because you can only really say goodbye once. But it’s not just the broadcast booth. Vin isn’t anywhere in Dodger Stadium — unless you count the various pictures and tributes.

    In the hours before Game 4 of the National League Championship, the on-field hypemen are still talking about “Win for Vin” — a mantra that followed the Los Angeles Dodgers this far into the postseason. But Vin ain’t here, man.

    What’s he doing instead? That answer might surprise you. According to Paul Sullivan of The Chicago Tribune, Vin is watching Game 3 of Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump:

    Friend of Vin Scully says he won't be at the game tonight. "He said he wants to watch the debate." pic.twitter.com/7Q3Efqx31o

    — Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) October 19, 2016