Sunday’s season finale is the end of the longest partnership in Major League Baseball. 720 WGN Radio has been broadcasting Cubs games since 1925 and has been the exclusive radio partner of the Cubs since 1959. After WGN opted out of its contract with the Cubs last October, the Cubs and WGN could not negotiate a new deal and the Cubs signed a seven-year contract with CBS Radio in June. Beginning in the spring, WBBM-AM 780 will be the new radio home of the Chicago Cubs.
Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer will still call the games both Hughes and Coomer are under contract for one more season.
WGN has been with the Cubs through the good years and not-so-good years and has provided generations of Cubs fans their summer soundtrack. While the only constant in life is change, it is going to be strange for a while not to be listening to the Cubs on ‘GN.
Starlin Castro met with the beat writers prior to Saturday’s game. Castro said he is going home to the Dominican Republic for two weeks. After a short break he will report to Mesa to continue his rehab. According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Castro was examined by team orthopedic specialist Dr. Stephen Gryzlo Saturday at Miller Park.
Castro promised he would be ready for next season and admitted he was frustrated by not being able to play since Sept. 2.
Starlin Castro is scheduled to spend time this off-season with Tim Buss, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, just like he did last winter when Buss spent six weeks in the Dominican with the Cubs’ shortstop. Castro said his goal is to be ready for Spring Training and not miss any time in Arizona with injuries like he has the last two years.
Like Anthony Rizzo, Castro sees “a bright future” for the Cubs and he thinks the team is “pretty close” to winning.
Carlos Villanueva spoke with the Tribune like he knows the Cubs do not plan on re-signing him this off-season. Villanueva’s two-year, $10 million contract with the Cubs expires Sunday and the veteran right-hander told Mark Gonzales he has appreciated his stint with the Cubs.
Entering play Saturday, Carlos Villanueva was 12-15 in 89 appearances, 20 starts, with a 4.27 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP during his two years with the Cubs. Villanueva was much more effective as a reliever than as a starter.
Villanueva said he’s really enjoyed his time with the Cubs and pointed out the “organization has been wonderful” to him and his family. Villanueva labeled his two seasons with the Cubs as “incredible.”
Carlos Villanueva has provided veteran leadership to a young roster, and even subbed for Lester Strode as the Cubs’ bullpen coach at Chris Bosio’s request while Strode was away from the team for family reasons.
Villanueva believes really good things are “on the horizon” for the Cubs. Villanueva does think the front office will have to find the “right type of veteran” to add to the clubhouse to serve as a teammate and mentor to the young roster. Villanueva does not think the Cubs need more young talent, they need to mold the talent they have.
Carlos Villanueva told the Tribune, “It is going to happen. You can see the changes and the guys, the kids like Kris Bryant coming. You just need to compliment these guys with the leadership they deserve and need.”
News and Notes
Ed Sherman’s Tribune report on Cubs-WGN partnership ending with Sunday’s season finale.
The Rockies claimed LHP Chris Rusin off waivers from the Cubs on Saturday. Chris Rusin will get a fresh start in an organization that needs all the pitching it can get and the Cubs opened a valuable spot on the 40-man roster.
Chris Coghlan is thriving again in the final month of a season. Coghlan is 28-for-84 in his last 24 games with seven doubles and three home runs (.333/.387/.524/.911) and with one game left, Coghlan is hitting .286/.354/.457 in 124 games with 28 doubles, five triples, nine home runs and a .810 OPS.
According to Saturday’s game notes, Jake Arrieta’s 1.46 ERA in 12 starts at Wrigley Field this season is the lowest ERA by a Cubs’ starting pitcher at Wrigley with a minimum of 12 starts since Mike Morgan posted a 1.38 ERA in 1992.
Jeff Samardzija is sad to see Paul Konerko retire according to a report from Patrick Mooney.
And in other former Cubs news, James Russell is starting for the Braves in a bullpen day Sunday. Atlanta is hoping to get two-three innings from the southpaw.
The Sun-Times spoke with Brewers’ right-hander Kyle Lohse about the Cubs not calling up Kris Bryant in September.
This Day In Cubstory
2012 – Darwin Barney’s errorless streak ended. Barney made a wild throw to first base after fielding a groundball off the bat of Justin Upton in the eighth inning. Barney was charged with an error and snapped his 141-game errorless streak.
2007 – The Cubs clinched the National League Central Division with a 6-0 shutout over the Reds. The Cubs waited in the visitor’s clubhouse at Great American Ball Park on the outcome of the Brewers game. Lou Piniella led his third different team to the post-season.
2007 – Alfonso Soriano led off the division winning game with a home run off Bronson Arroyo, his 32nd longball of the season. Soriano set a Major League record by hitting hit sixth home run to start a game during the month and tied Ernie Banks’ franchise record with his 13th home run during the month of September.
2003 – The Cubs retired Ron Santo’s #10. Santo proclaimed that having his number retired by the Cubs meant more to him than the Hall of Fame. Santo’s #10 joined Ernie Banks’ #14 on the left field foul pole and became on the third number retired by the Cubs at the time (Banks 14, Williams 26).
2001 – In the first game back at Wrigley Field after the attacks on 9/11, Sammy Sosa hit his 59th home run of the season and pulled a small American flag out and waived it as he circled the bases.
1998 – Game 163 … The Cubs beat the Giants 5-3 at Wrigley Field and won the National League Wild Card.
1997 – Ryne Sandberg played his last game. Sandberg went 0-for-2 in a 2-1 loss to the Cardinals. Sandberg played 2151 games with the Cubs over 15 seasons and a total of 2164 games during his Hall of Fame career.
1962 – In front of only 595 fans at Wrigley Field, the Cubs (58-101) beat the Mets (39-118) in the first game between two teams that both lost 100 games in the same season in Major League history. The Mets ended up with a 40-120 record in its first season, and established the record for the most losses in the modern era.
1959 – Charlie Grimm began his third stint as manager of the Cubs. Grimm replaced Bob Scheffing, who skippered the Cubs to a 74-80 record, the most wins for the Cubs since 1952 (77-77).
1953 – Cubs released Phil Cavarretta
1953 – Cubs released Dutch Leonard
1953 – Cubs signed free agent Gene Mauch
1952 – On the last day of the season Stan Musial pitched for the one and only time in his Hall of Fame Career. Musial faced Frankie Baumholtz with two outs in the bottom of the first inning and Baumholtz reached on an error. Paul Minner and the Cubs beat the Cardinals 3-0 at Sportsman’s Park ,but Musial won the batting championship over Baumholtz, .336 – .325. Since it was the end of the season, the two teams decided to have Musial and Baumholtz face one another.
1938 – The Homer in the Gloamin’ … Gabby Hartnett hit his famous home run in the ninth inning off Mace Brown as darkness set in at Wrigley Field. The Cubs beat the Pirates 6-5 and basically clinched the National League Pennant with their ninth win in a row.
1930 – Hack Wilson drove in his 190 and 191st runs of the year on the final day of the season. Wilson was credited for 190 RBI at the time, but years later a RBI that Wilson was not initially given credit for was discovered. In 1999, Jerome Holtzman found a run that Wilson drove in during a game in July. Wilson’s 191 RBI is the Major League record for a single season. In 1930, Hack Wilson hit .356/.454/.723 with 35 doubles, six triples, 56 home runs, 191 RBI, 105 walks and 84 strikeouts for a 1.177 OPS.
1912 – Cubs released player-manager Frank Chance. In 7 ½ seasons as the Cubs skipper, Chance led the Cubs to four pennants and two World Series Championships. Chance posted a 753-379 record, a .665 winning percentage, the highest in team history.