LOS ANGELES — Remember Quintin Berry?
The Cubs signed Berry as a free agent last August shortly before the Sept. 1 deadline for postseason eligibility.
Berry played in eight games, batted only once and was used primarily as a pinch runner.
So Berry turned out to be far from an essential addition. But with the Cubs all but assured of securing the best record in the National League this season, there are plenty of reasons to make sure they have covered all their bases in preparing for the playoffs. Here's a look:
It sure feels like football season.
Freshmen have been living in the dorms for about a week now, students are going to class for the third day today, and every once in a while, there will be a wind that blows through Iowa City that makes it feel like the middle of the fall.
This Saturday will definitely feel like a football Saturday, and the safe bet is to assume plenty of students around campus will celebrate as such (probably as early as 6 a.m.), but there are still 10 more days until the Hawkeyes kick off against Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 3.
For the first time since 2010, the Iowa football team finds itself ranked in the preseason top-25 AP poll, coming in at No. 17.
The Hawkeyes are one of four Big Ten teams ranked, joining Ohio State (No. 6), Michigan (No. 7), and Michigan State (No. 12) in the poll. Iowa finished ninth in the poll last season, the first time the team has been ranked in the postseason poll since 2009.
Speedo was the first, announcing early Monday it dropped its sponsorship of embattled U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte. By the end of the day, three other companies also said they would cut ties with him.
The decisions to cut ties with Lochte come after a week-long saga that led to Lochte and three other swimmers to be questioned by Rio authorities after Lochte alleged they were robbed at gunpoint. Ralph Lauren and a laser hair removal company announced they would also sever their respective sponsor relationships with the 32-year-old swimmer.
“While we have enjoyed a winning relationship with Ryan for over a decade and he has been an important member of the Speedo team, we cannot condone the behavior that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for,” Speedo USA said in a statement.
IOWA CITY, IOWA -- George Kittle was touted as college football's best returning tight end this summer by the metrics gurus at Pro Football Focus.
The website graded the Iowa senior among the top six as both a run blocker and pass receiver last season. They broke down three plays, two of which displayed Kittle's blocking prowess. From an in-line position, the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder drove defenders so far backward their shoulders hit the turf before their bottoms. The other play showed Kittle's dynamic, one-handed catch against Maryland.
If Iowa fans were told they'd be able to root for a team that finished 12-2 and played in the Rose Bowl, they likely would have taken it before the 2015 season. But, knowing what we know now, it's those final two losses that will stick in the craw of the fan base for some time.
Those losses also fueled Iowa's players during the offseason. They reached the cusp of the College Football Playoff, only to watch that dream fall short in the Big Ten title game against Michigan State. Four weeks later, they hardly showed up in a blowout Rose Bowl loss to Stanford.
"We were humbled by last year’s last two games," Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell said. "We kind of have to have that stick in our head and realize we have better goals this year, to win the last two games. We haven't won a bowl game in four years so, really, to end the season strong is a big goal for us."
One of the major keys to Iowa’s Big Ten Championship run last season was the emergence of C.J. Beathard as an elite quarterback in the conference.
A second-team Big Ten performer, he was a big part of Iowa scoring more than 30 points per game and averaging nearly 400 yards of offense per contest.
SAN DIEGO – As anyone who has followed or studied the Cubs for the last century or so knows, this team has an uncanny ability historically to miss its target.
No matter how many All-Stars (eight in 2008), no matter how many future Hall of Famers (five in 1969, counting the manager). No matter how late the Game 6 lead.
Defending national champion Alabama is No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason Top 25 as the Crimson Tide attempts to win a fifth title in eight seasons.
Coach Nick Saban's Tide received 33 of 61 first-place votes from the media panel and 1,469 points. No. 2 Clemson received 16 first-place votes and 1,443 points. It's the first time since 1992 that Nos. 1 and 2 in the preseason rankings are the same as they were in the final poll of the previous season.
Oklahoma is No. 3 and has four first-place votes. No. 4 Florida State has five. No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Ohio State and No. 7 Michigan all received one first-place vote.
DENVER – If the Cubs got nothing else out of their lost series in Colorado over the weekend, they got encouraging debut work from the rookie reinforcements for an injury-depleted bullpen.
In particular, left-hander Rob Zastryzny, pitched another scoreless 2 2/3 innings Sunday in an 11-4 loss, two days after making a scoreless, one-inning debut late in Friday’s extra-inning loss.