Mike Oz

  • Kyle Schwarber not medically cleared to play field as World Series moves to Wrigley

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 hr ago

    CHICAGO — The Cubs will have one less dangerous bat in their lineup when the World Series shifts to Wrigley Field on Friday for Game 3, because Kyle Schwarber was not medically cleared to play the field and thus, won’t be in the starting lineup.

    Schwarber, whose amazing return from injury and subsequent success, has become the biggest individual story of this World Series. After a Game 2 performance in which he had two hits and two RBIs against the Cleveland Indians as the Cubs’ designated hitter, Chicago was clamoring to see whether Schwarber would defy the odds again and get the OK from doctors to allow his surgically reconstructed knee to patrol the outfield.

    “Just too much risk associated with playing the field at this time,” said Cubs president Theo Epstein. “We have to look out for Kyle’s long-term interests.”

    The decision was made before batting practice Thursday, after a phone call with the doctors who repaired Schwarber’s knee after he tore both his ACL and MCL in an outfield collision in April.

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  • Opening 25-year-old baseball cards with Frank Thomas

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 6 hrs ago

    First the bad news: There’s no Frank Thomas card in the packs of 1991 Donruss I busted open recently with The Big Hurt himself. Good news: While he didn’t pull his own card, he did pull a few guys he knew quite well.

    Welcome to another episode of my “Opening 25-Year-old Baseball Cards” series. The 1991 Donruss have been sitting, unopened, since my grandma bought them from Costco. They’re basically worthless, so I decided to open them with baseball people and see what stories ensue.

    In 1991, Thomas was one of the best cards to have. His Topps Stadium Club from that year remains in my collection and his Upper Deck was sought after too. In Donruss, though, he came in Series 2 and those aren’t the ones we’re opening.

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  • Everything was a mess for the Indians in World Series Game 2

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 18 hrs ago

    CLEVELAND — There was no blood this time, but it was even more of a mess.

    The Cleveland Indians, who made it this far in the postseason because so many things had gone right for them, turned in a sloppy, ugly, uncharacteristic loss in Game 2 of the World Series.

    The final was 5-1, and it felt so much more out of touch than that. The Chicago Cubs jumped on Indians starter Trevor Bauer right away, scoring by the time their cleanup hitter came to the plate, and the Indians never regained control.

    And, oh Bauer. He’s the Indians pitcher whose last start didn’t even last an inning because his injured pinky started gushing blood on the mound. The pinky was fine this time. The only thing that gushed was disappointment out of Progressive Field, where Indians fans left knowing the World Series is going to Chicago for three games knotted at one.

    Game 2 was proof, things catch up with you eventually in the postseason.

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  • Chief Wahoo debate intensifies with the World Series in Cleveland

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 23 hrs ago

    CLEVELAND — As fans filled into Game 1 of the World Series, the type of baseball event this city hasn’t seen in a couple decades, a small group of activists gathered in a courtyard across from the stadium.

    There were half a dozen of them and they held signs that read: “People Not Mascots,” “Stop Teaching Your Children Racism” and “Cleveland, Lose Your Shame, Change the Name.”

    In the middle was Sundance, the one-named activist who oversees the Cleveland American Indian Movement, the group that has been protesting Cleveland’s Chief Wahoo logo and the Indians’ team name on every Opening Day for the past 46 years.

    “We need the support of people across this country and worldwide,” Sundance said. “The baseball team and Major League Baseball just aren’t responsive to us. We are faced with an intransigent opponent, so we have to persevere.”

    The Indians being in the World Series inspired him to organize his first protest of the postseason, to get his message in front of a bigger, potentially international audience.

    “This is our moment,” he said.

    Raycher saw the protestors as he walked in and didn’t go near them.

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  • Here’s the ultimate playlist of World Series walk-up music

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    It’s World Series week and if you’re trying to consume baseball-related things even during baseball’s downtime, we’ve got something different for ears.

    Libratone, a Danish wireless speaker company that has a partnership with Spotify, has created the ultimate playlist of World Series walk-up music. It features walk-up songs used by players from the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs, more than 40 songs in all.

    Some are current songs, others were songs the players used throughout the season. The artists on the playlist range from Michael Jackson and Bryan Adams to Jason Aldean and Eric B & Rakim. Even Ben Zobrist’s wife, Julianna.

    Here’s a full rundown:

    Good stuff, but the Indians don’t have nearly enough Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

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  • Opening 25-year-old baseball cards with Alex Rodriguez

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    When we started the “Opening 25-Year-Old Baseball Cards” video series, I never expected I’d be ripping into wax packs with Alex Rodriguez, but here we are.

    A-Rod retired this season and is now a postseason analyst at Fox Sports, sharing his baseball knowledge during the MLB on Fox pre and postgame shows. If you watch the show, it’s obvious that A-Rod knows a ton about the game.

    He also knows a lot about the players in our 1991 Donruss packs, including one famous ex-teammate, an ex-coach of his and one of his favorite shortstops when he was growing up.

    If you’re new to this series (hi, thanks for watching), here’s the requisite backstory: My grandma and I collected baseball cards together when I was a kid. She had these cards from 1991 stashed away and I recently discovered them. They’re basically worthless, but opening them with baseball players and baseball people has been a lot of fun.

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  • What you need to know before Game 2 of the World Series

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    CLEVELAND — The ground is wet here and that could be a problem before Game 2 of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on Wednesday night.

    Major League Baseball was proactive in announcing midway through Game 1 that Wednesday’s game had been moved up an hour, to 7:08 p.m. ET, in hopes of getting enough dry time to play the game.

    The hour-by-hour forecast calls for Cleveland to be wet between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET, but just clouds from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The question is whether the forecast holds up and, if rain does hit in the 9 p.m. hour, will it be sprinkles or enough to wash out the game?

    In the postseason, MLB doesn’t allow games to end early because of weather. They have to play the entire thing, even if that means suspending the game and picking up again Thursday, which is a scheduled travel day as the series shifts to Chicago.

    On Tuesday, Bauer said he felt good and was on pace for Game 2, just like any other start.

    Likewise, Indians manager Terry Francona said he’s confident in Bauer, but he was last time too.


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  • Meet the fan who created 'Party at Napoli's,' the Indians' rallying cry

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    CLEVELAND — It’s hard to go anywhere in this city without seeing a “Party at Napoli’s” T-shirt. They were at Game 1 of the World Series. They were in Indians’ clubhouse. Dudes in the local bars are walking around in them.

    Heck, even Mike Napoli himself, Cleveland’s slugging party machine, was wearing one at World Series Media Day.

    “There’s the postseason shirt,” says Nate Crowe, a 38-year-old father of three, sitting down with a plate of tacos in front of him at restaurant across from Progressive Field, pointing to a guy walking past. Crowe has been an Indians fan all his life and carries along with his fandom a certain affinity for DIY signs and T-shirts.

    That’s how, on one day back in April, Crowe bought a tri-fold poster board from Target for $8.99, grabbed some double-thick markers and made a sign that said “Party at Napoli’s.” He stood in right field at Progressive Field and held it up, trying to get the attention of Indians’ players. He got a whole lot more than that.

    — HIPSTER TITO (@HipsterTito) April 20, 2016

    He has a good heart too. It was Napoli’s idea to turn the T-shirts into a charitable endeavor.

  • Kyle Schwarber proves people wrong in surprise return to Cubs lineup

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    CLEVELAND — It may not too genuine if you’re the Chicago Cubs, losers of Game 1 of the World Series 6-0, to go around and put silver linings on things. The Cubs are expected to win this series, to break the so-called curse, to leave 108 years in the past.

    Getting beaten handily by the Cleveland Indians, their robotic ace Corey Kluber, their backup catcher who suddenly started hitting homers and their bullpen dynamo Andrew Miller — none of that was in the script.

    Chicago’s North Side will wake up disappointed and disgruntled on Wednesday, as it should. But if it’s looking for that silver lining, that one good thing to latch on to, here’s a name that will make even the most morose Cubs fan smile: Kyle Schwarber.

    Schwarber passed his own tests too.

    “It gave me confidence,” Schwarber said.

  • The unlikely star of the Indians' Game 1 World Series victory

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    CLEVELAND — This is the night everyone learned the name Roberto Perez.

    If you didn’t know it before Game 1 of the World Series, you probably weren’t alone. He’s the backup catcher who was thrust into a starting role midseason. He’s a 27-year-old who hit .183 this year and is mostly known for his defense behind the plate. He’s the guy hitting in the nine-hole.

    Heck, even the name Roberto Perez is right out of the central casting for the second-string catcher turned unlikely star of the World Series.

    That’s just who Perez was on Tuesday night in the Indians’ 6-0 Game 1 win over the Chicago Cubs. There was Perez, crouched behind the plate, catching another stellar start from ace Corey Kluber. Then hitting a solo homer in the fourth inning that put the Indians ahead 3-0. And launching a three-run blast in the eighth, the dagger that put the Cubs in a 1-0 series hole.

    “I don’t think I’ve ever had a night like that,” Perez said afterward, his game face still on like he’d go another nine innings with the Cubs if his team needed. “It was huge.”