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  • Kyle Schwarber might have a shot to return to the Cubs during the World Series. (AP)

    Here’s some news that will no doubt pique the interest of Chicago Cubs fans. It should also have the Cleveland Indians paying close attention.

    Injured slugger Kyle Schwarber, who hit a franchise-record five home runs during a remarkable postseason last season, is reportedly headed to the Arizona Fall League to continue his recovery from knee surgery.

    According to the Chicago Tribune, Schwarber has been added to the Mesa Solar Sox taxi squad and is expected to be in the starting lineup Saturday. Being on the taxi squad means a player can only play Wednesday and Saturday. It would be fitting for a player that’s limited physically. However, there’s already strong speculation the Cubs are mainly looking to test Schwarber’s knee and perhaps knock some rust ahead of a potential return in the World Series.

    Yeah, it might sound like a long shot. But that’s better than no shot. Oh, and the medical reports sound good too.

    On April 7, Schwarber tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee in a collision with center fielder Dexter Fowler. He underwent surgery a few days later and was ruled out for the season. Of course, many fans were immediately talking about how cool it would be if Schwarber could return as a designated hitter in the World Series. It was wishful thinking for most. For others, it was probably therapeutic. A way to deal with the pain and disappointment of losing a key player.

    Now though, there’s real hope.

    Kyle Schwarber is taken off the field after injuring his knee in a collision with teammate Dexter Fowler. (AP)

    The Tribune also notes that Cubs officials have been adamant that Schwarber would not return this season, but that the possibility of him playing winter ball did exist. Obviously, we’re well ahead of the projected time frame, so it’s clear the medical reports have been truly positive. Now we wait to see if he’s healthy enough and ready enough for live pitching to warrant inclusion on the roster.

    If so, this will conjure up images of Willis Reed’s dramatic return to the New York Knicks for Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals. Or better yet, Kirk Gibson hobbling around the bases after hitting a pinch-hit walk-off home in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series on one leg.

    But this could even go beyond those instances in history. Granted, the Cubs still have work to do to get past the Dodgers, but if Schwarber is somehow a contributor in ending a 108-year World Series championship drought, it would be the ultimate comeback story. His place in Cubs lore and baseball history would no doubt be cemented forever.

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    Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

  • As the first pitch of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series nears, almost all of the focus is on the Chicago Cubs opportunity to make history, reverse curses and reach the franchise’s first World Series since 1945.

    We doubt the Los Angeles Dodgers are too upset about that.

    If any team has needed a 48-hour break to clear its mind and perhaps even allow the pressure to shift to the other side, it’s this Dodgers squad. They were dismantled physically, mentally and strategically during lopsided losses in Games 4 and 5. They were frustrated by their own struggles. They were rattled by some calls they didn’t agree with. Mostly, though, they were beaten down by a dominant and determined team on a mission.

    That mission won’t change on Saturday night, but that doesn’t mean the Dodgers are a lost cause either. As they have shown many times throughout the season, when injuries ravaged their roster, they’re a resilient team. As long as they’re alive, they have a fighting chance.

    Here, we’ll look at the three biggest reasons they’re capable of flipping the scripts and breaking Cubs fans hearts all over again.

    Can Clayton Kershaw rescue the Dodgers one more time in NLCS Game 6? (Getty Images)

    Clayton Kershaw
    The postseason stigma is gone now. More importantly, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner looks healthy, which was far from a given considering his back issues. That was never more evident than NLCS Game 2, when despite pitching on short rest Kershaw was able to dominate the Cubs for seven innings at Wrigley Field.

    The breakdown here is pretty simple. The Dodgers are 4-0 this postseason in games in which Kershaw has pitched, which includes his save in NLDS Game 5. In games he hasn’t pitched, the Dodgers are 1-5. Granted, he won’t be available for both games in Chicago. That means history from the Washington series won’t be repeated. But the Dodgers just need a chance to reach Game 7, and he gives them that chance.

    A rested Kenley Jansen
    Manager Dave Roberts has shown a willingness to extend his closer for multiple innings this postseason. It’s paid off so far, but it’s no doubt taking its toll, which is why Jansen coming in on three days rest is a big positive. That should give Roberts confidence he can use Jansen for two innings again in Game 6 and then go from there.

    Again, the Dodgers path to pulling this off begins and ends with surviving Game 6. They’re positioned well to do that. Then all bets would be off in Game 7.

    Ignore the odds
    The odds don’t favor the Dodgers this weekend.

    Fortunately, the odds don’t matter much in the unpredictable game of baseball. Otherwise, the Dodgers wouldn’t even be here.

    During the regular season they placed an MLB record 28 different players on the disabled list. That included Clayton Kershaw and basically every key starting pitcher save for Kenta Maeda. The odds are against any team surviving that. Yet somehow, the Dodgers actually flourished.

    The Dodgers have been in this position before too. If you recall, that was just last week. Trailing 2-1 in the NLDS, the Dodgers rallied to defeat the Washington Nationals in Game 4 and 5 to advance.

    Granted, none of that really matters now either. It’s a different opponent and a different challenge with entirely different circumstances. But it’s also still baseball. It’s still about creating offense. It’s still about making plays. The Dodgers have done plenty of both this season. If they start doing it again Saturday night, we’ll be in for some fun baseball.

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    Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

  • With the Cleveland Indians four wins away from the franchise’s first World Series championship since 1948, the mood around the team and the city has been mostly celebratory. Unfortunately, that joy isn’t being shared by Eddie Robinson, the lone surviving member of the 1948 Indians team.

    Robinson is upset that he has not been contacted by the team at any point during its run to the 2016 World Series, according to the New York Daily News.

    “That’s the funny thing about it. I haven’t heard a damn word from Cleveland. Not a word,” Robinson told the Daily News. “I’m disappointed. It just seems like they would want to talk to any member of the ’48 team, let the press talk to them. I don’t understand it. Maybe they’ll get in touch with me.”

    Robinson was the starting first baseman and a key contributor on that 1948 team. During the regular season he hit .254 with 16 homers and 83 RBIs. In the World Series, he was 6-for-21, with two hits and his lone RBI coming in their series-clinching 4-3 win in Game 6 against the Boston Braves. Robinson also shared the spotlight with a star-studded roster that included Hall of Famers Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Larry Doby, Satchel Paige, Joe Gordon and Lou Boudreau, who served then as player-manager.

    For his career, Robinson was a four-time All-Star who finished with 1,146 hits and 172 home runs.

    According to the Daily News story, the 95-year-old Paris, Texas, native now lives in Fort Worth. He is also currently the oldest living player to suit up for the New York Yankees.

    Some fans would like to see Eddie Robinson invited to Progressive Field during the World Series. (AP)

    After learning of his story, many Indians fans are now pushing for Robinson and not Charlie Sheen — in the role of fictional Indians pitcher Rick Vaughn — to throw out the first pitch before World Series Game 1.

    There’s no word yet from the Indians what their plans are, and there’s no word if Robinson is interested in that role, or just an acknowledgment for holding a special place in Cleveland sports history.

    Regardless of what happens, Robinson says it won’t keep him from rooting for the Indians. After all, he was teammates with Tito Francona, the father of current Indians manager Terry Francona, during his final season in 1957. If nothing else, he’ll be rooting for Francona to be a big part of Indians history.

    There’s a lot more to Robinson’s story and it’s well worth a read over at the New York Daily News.

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    Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

  • Danny Salazar is working his way toward a return in the World Series. (AP)

    Long layoffs are not typically welcomed by teams in the midst of a postseason run. However, the Cleveland Indians can’t really complain about the six days they’ll have to rest and heal ahead of World Series Game 1 on Tuesday.

    As everyone knows by now, the Indians are a beat up team, particularly in the starting rotation. But Friday offered optimism that the extra days of rest could allow two key members of their rotation to return at or near 100 percent. That includes Danny Salazar, who had been shut down since early September due to a right forearm strain.

    According to manager Terry Francona, the All-Star right-hander threw a two-inning simulated game on Sunday that went according to plan. Salazar is scheduled to throw another simulated game this weekend. If that goes well, Francona left the door open for Salazar to pitch and perhaps even start a World Series game. He concluded his comments with six very encouraging words.

    “I think he’s ready to pitch.”

    One key factor will be extending Salazar to three innings during the workout. That would go a long way toward cementing the confidence Francona would have in extending Salazar during a game. He also noted that Salazar has been throwing his fastball, changeup and curveball, which is one important hurdle that’s definitely been cleared.

    “If Danny pitches and he pitches healthy,” Francona told the media on Friday, “and he’s throwing the ball over the plate, we have a really good pitcher for however amount of innings he’s built up for, which can potentially help us.”

    This is all very encouraging, but the Indians should still be expected to exercise caution. As much as they’d like to have Salazar back, and as much as winning the World Series would mean to all involved, there’s still a bigger picture that includes Salazar’s long-term health. With that in mind, don’t expect a final decision until Monday or perhaps even Tuesday.

    As for Trevor Bauer and his bloody pinkie, they’re both expected to be ready.

    If Salazar and Bauer can go, that would provide a huge boost behind ace Corey Kluber. The only big pitching piece missing then would be Carlos Carrasco, who has been ruled out with a broken hand. If one or both experience setbacks, then Josh Tomlin will be bumped up again and ALCS hero Ryan Merritt should be in for one more start.

    Either way, Francona will continue relying heavily on his bullpen to pick up innings, which means guys like Andrew Miller and Cody Allen may end up being the biggest beneficiaries of the layoff.

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    Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

  • The Chicago Cubs are one win away from clinching their first trip to the World Series since 1945 and not surprisingly a lot of fans are desperate to be a part of history.

    How desperate you ask? Desperate enough to camp outside Wrigley Field on Friday night in hopes that tickets to NLCS Game 6, or potentially Game 7, will become available.

    According to CBS Chicago, fans started showing up early on Friday with the knowledge they’d likely have to wait until Saturday morning to find out if tickets were available. The problem, of course, is that it’s possible tickets will not be released. And even if some are, it’s likely there won’t be enough to cover a crowd that’s expected to continue growing overnight.

    Nonetheless, fans have not been deterred. In fact, many sound prepared to stay as long as necessary, even if that means braving some uncomfortable elements.

    Here’s more from the CBS Chicago report:

    The Cubs won’t allow them to camp out near the ticket counter, so fans like Luis Delgado have relocated just outside a construction site and scaffolding across the street.

    “I really want to go to the game you know what I’m saying?” Delgado says.

    His plan was to sleep outside, weathering the overnight drop in temperatures, the late night noise from cars and nearby bar patrons, and then at 8 a.m. Saturday morning get in line for hopefully four tickets — if there are any available.

    Worth noting, Chicago police have already stated fans will not be allowed to put up tents. So it could be a long night.

    Of course, there are also some hopeful buyers looking to turn a hefty profit should they land a ticket or four. According to Forbes,  tickets for NLCS Game 6 went up 13 percent overnight on the heels of Chicago’s win in Game 5. Some club seats are reportedly going for nearly $5,000. It’s noted that some bleacher seats are ranging from nearly $900 to $1,640.

    Fans are seen outside of Wrigley Field prior to game one of the National League Championship Series. (AP)

    As Cubs fans will tell you, there’s no price tag they’d put on being part of any moment relating to the Cubs making the World Series. But they will pay, and they will pay a lot, which means demand and prices will skyrocket. That’s especially true if there’s a Game 7 or, beyond that, a World Series game next Friday.

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    Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

  • 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.

    “When I’m in the booth,” Buck told us. “The only thing I’m guilty of rooting for is a good long series and exciting games. San Francisco Giants fans think I hate the team. I would rather be in San Francisco than just about anywhere on Earth. But I have to play it down the middle and they’re used to hearing their guys all summer long scream and yell for the Giants. So I get it. It’s not a big deal. It doesn’t make me sad or cry to my mommy at night.”

    Joe Buck thinking about all the reasons he hates your team. (Getty Images)

    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.

    There’s a lot more in the podcast too, so check it out. And if you come away a Buck fan, then be sure to check out his book “Lucky Bastard” and his interview show “Undeniable,” which starts its third season in 2017.

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

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    Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

  • Alex Rodriguez cannot stop his face from making that look when Pete Rose starts complimenting Derek Jeter. (Screen Shot via FOX)

    The team of in-studio analysts for FS1 has been rolling along nicely this postseason. Kevin Burkhardt, Alex Rodriguez, Pete Rose, and Frank Thomas have been providing interesting commentary before and after the games, with A-Rod in particular standing out as a guy with deep baseball knowledge and a thoughtful approach.

    Of course, when you sit A-Rod and his thoughtful approach next to Pete Rose, king of the hot take, you’re bound to get a few strange and uncomfortable moments. Take this one for example, which happened during Thursday night’s broadcast of Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.

    Essentially, Pete Rose said that Derek Jeter inspired Alex Rodriguez. And A-Rod’s response is truly amazing. As Rose is talking about Jeter, A-Rod looks forward and almost laughs. He’s got a look on his face that says “yeah, right” and also “AGAIN with this Jeter stuff.” A-Rod responds for a moment, and when Rose starts talking again he gives him a deadpan “try to dig yourself out of this one” kind of look. It’s just everything.

    Rose wasn’t talking about inspiration in the traditional sense. He meant that Jeter inspired A-Rod to be better on the field. That good play from one guy can elevate the level of play for everyone. Of course, A-Rod was a pretty excellent player in his heyday, both on the field and at the plate. There’s no reason that his level of play couldn’t have inspired his teammates to play better. Rose seemed to realize his mistake in not complimenting A-Rod, AKA the guy sitting next to him, and made sure to tack on “You’re a great player, man” right before A-Rod started talking again.

    This is not the only time A-Rod had a glorious response to Pete Rose babbling weirdness at him.

    I have no idea what Rose could have said that caused that kind of reaction from A-Rod, but I’ll bet it was pretty ridiculous. A-Rod looked like he was reevaluating his entire life in those moments. “How have I gotten here? What did I do?”

    A-Rod will continue to be an in-studio analyst once the World Series begins on Fox, and hopefully we can look forward to more of his incredible face acting.

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    Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

  • 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.”

    Bill Murray, Cubs fan extraordinaire. (AP)

    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.

    This is hardly the first time Murray has shown up somewhere unexpected to talk about the Cubs. We’ll point you toward this classic with the great Harry Caray from 1988, because it’s always worth watching again.

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    Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

  • When you talk about the greatest baseball movies ever made, “Major League” has to make the list. But it has a special place in the hearts of Cleveland Indians fans, since it’s about a crappy Indians team beating the odds and making it to the World Series. And now that their non-crappy team is headed to the World Series, some fans want to make “Major League” part of the opening game festivities. 

    Charlie Sheen played pitcher Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn in “Major League,” and the thing he’d “be honored” to do is throw out the first pitch of Tuesday’s World Series opener in character as Vaughn.

    Okay, that sounds amazing. What better way to celebrate the return of the World Series to Cleveland than with a first pitch thrown by one of the most indelible fictional pitchers of all time? The crowd will already be totally pumped, but imagine how insane they’ll be when “Wild Thing” starts blaring over the speakers and Charlie Sheen, decked out in his stirrups and glasses, emerges from the bullpen.

    This has to happen. If not for Game 1, then Game 2. The team itself would have to approve and put everything together, but how could they say no to the chance to make a fictional Cleveland baseball moment into a real Cleveland baseball moment? Hopefully they won’t.

    Charlie Sheen at Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. (AP Photo)

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    Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

  • Prior to Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, some were calling for Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell to be benched. Up until that point, Russell had gone hitless in the series, and many wondered whether manager Joe Maddon would be better off leaving him off the lineup card for Game 4.

    That would have been a terrible decision. Russell broke out with a three-hit performance in Game 4 that included a big two-run homer. He continued his hot streak Thursday during Game 5, belting another two-run shot that gave the Cubs the lead.

    There has to be a reason for Russell’s sudden turnaround, right? Maybe he’s seeing the ball better? Or maybe he spent more time in the batting cages recently?

    Nope. That’s not it. Russell’s recent hot streak has been the result of wearing a teammate’s lucky underwear.

    That’s Cubs outfielder Matt Szczur telling the FS1 booth that Russell borrowed his underwear prior to Game 4 of the NLCS.

    Now, you might think that Szczur is messing around with the television booth. Maybe he’s trying to embarrass Russell in front of a national audience. That’s not the case. Russell confirmed the story after Game 5, but opted to use the term “leggings” instead of underwear.

    Hey, whatever works. Russell is getting results, so how can we argue with this new ritual?

    There’s an intimate reason Addison Russell has put it all together at the plate recently. (Getty Images/Harry How)

    One thing we might be able to argue is that Szczur has been the Cubs’ most valuable player during the NLCS. On top of igniting Russell’s surge with his underwear, Szczur is also responsible for Anthony Rizzo’s turnaround at the plate. It was one of Szczur’s bats that got Anthony Rizzo back on track during Game 4. Szczur isn’t actually on the Cubs’ NLCS roster, so that might ruin our whole argument here.

    Still, based on how much luck he’s brought to the Cubs thus far, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him sitting in the dugout naked soon. At this point, we assume Jason Heyward is going to be wearing Szczur’s spikes and Kyle Hendricks will be sporting his cup during Game 6.

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    Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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