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Column: Grading Jed Hoyer’s Chicago Cubs rebuild that can’t be referred to as a rebuild (sorry, Marquee)

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Column: Grading Jed Hoyer’s Chicago Cubs rebuild that can’t be referred to as a rebuild (sorry, Marquee)

In a rare media appearance last week, Chicago Cubs President Jed Hoyer said it would be impossible to fully evaluate last year’s sell-off until well down the road.

“They’re probably going to be evaluated in 2027 for real, and I think that’s the way it should be,” Hoyer said of the flurry of trades. “I don’t think anyone should be looking at it as a passing grade at this point.”

That made perfect sense. Most of the top prospects Hoyer acquired in 2021 — from the Yu Darvish deal through the trade-deadline moves — will have made it to the Cubs by then or else been dealt or simply plateaued.

But when Hoyer mentioned 2027, my first thought was whether I’d still be here to provide an opinion about whether he deserved a passing grade. Five years is a long time in this business, and admittedly I’m probably as old as Tony La Russa’s Sunday shoes.

So to get ahead of the curve, I decided to grade Hoyer’s sell-off now, knowing it would stand up well in 2027.

Hoyer, of course, deserves an F.

Excuse me, I meant an A.

I just had what press box wags refer to as a “Marquee moment.”

The Great Sell-Off of 2021 will live in Cubs infamy and ultimately be judged by whether it helped them meet their goal of winning another World Series in the not-too-distant future.

We already know they couldn’t win another ring with Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Báez. The Cubs didn’t win another playoff game with the three stars after 2017, and they deserve part of the blame for that failure.

We also don’t know whether the next group of prospects can win one. But that doesn’t seem to matter right now, which is why Hoyer deserves an A.

Hoyer correctly assumed an inferior product on the field would not significantly affect ticket sales and reducing long-term contractual commitments was more important than competing in 2022.

The Cubs might have downsized payroll and lowered expectations, but they’re still averaging 31,673 fans per game at Wrigley Field, eighth in the majors entering Thursday’s games.

Thousands of no-shows cut into concession and souvenir sales, and vendors say fans are not drinking as much beer with money so tight these days. But considering the team’s sub.-500 record, the mostly terrible spring weather and the lack of players to market aside from Willson Contreras and signees Marcus Stroman and Seiya Suzuki, the Cubs have to be satisfied with the crowd sizes.

With warmer weather on the way and schools letting out, attendance should climb this summer. The star-studded White Sox, in contrast, rank 18th in attendance despite back-to-back playoff appearances.

In spite of a 1.7% drop in average ticket price, the Cubs still rank fourth in the majors as $56.83, according to Team Marketing Report. In terms of Fan Cost Index, the Cubs are at $364.83 for a family of four, second highest behind the Boston Red Sox ($385.37). Going to Wrigley is still an expensive proposition during a rebuild that can’t be referred to as a rebuild.

But in the short run, the Cubs haven’t suffered economically from putting a subpar product on the field. The season is going the way most expected when the roster was completed after the lockout, and Hoyer can sleep well knowing he doesn’t have any long-term, nine-digit contracts to worry about when Jason Heyward’s deal expires after 2023.

On deck for Hoyer is another in a series of franchise-defining decisions: whether to keep or deal Contreras. If Contreras is dealt, the chances of contending seemingly would be prolonged by at least a year, perhaps two. If not, Hoyer risks losing Contreras to free agency after the season.

Either way, we’ll soon get our first taste of the next wave when Triple-A Iowa starter Caleb Kilian, acquired in the Bryant deal, becomes the first of the “Summer of ’21 Babies” to make his Cubs debut.

It won’t be next week, according to manager David Ross, but whenever it is, it figures to be quite a celebration, much like Rizzo’s Cubs debut on June 26, 2012.

That event was preceded by TV commercials touting the big game and full-page newspaper ads hyping the WGN-Ch. 9 telecast. Now that the Cubs have their own network, they could make a full-length documentary on Kilian’s debut if warranted.

Times have changed.

The clock on Hoyer’s “next great Cubs team” unofficially begins with Kilian’s call-up, just as Bryant’s arrival on April 17, 2015, started the clock on the previous rebuild. With Kilian, Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson in the 2023 rotation, the Cubs can show modest improvement before potentially contending for a postseason berth in 2024.

That would make 2025 the logical target date for Hoyer’s whatever-he-calls it, or one less year than Theo Epstein’s rebuild.

As for now, Cubs fans are counting the days until the annual summer fire sale.

They’re wondering who will go and who will stay but not obsessing as much as last summer when the Big Three were part of the daily conversation. They’ve learned to “embrace the suck,” as Joe Maddon once suggested in his ironic commentary on decades of low expectations on the North Side.

But this time they really mean it.

Plenty of Cubs teams have been irrelevant by Memorial Day. Somehow you managed to make it through the season. Remember, if you don’t have expectations, you can’t be disappointed. Just look at 2022 as a “Cubs Classic” season, like 1982 or 2012, and you’ll be OK.

Factoring the legendary resilience of Cubs fans into the equation is why Hoyer deserves an F for the 2021 sell-off.

Sorry, I meant an A.

Can we edit this part out and start over?

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10 Underrated Bollywood Movies Of All Time You Need To Watch

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Underrated Bollywood Movie

Bollywood movies get plenty of attention, but some don’t receive as much praise as they deserve. These underrated Bollywood movies are under the radar because they aren’t precisely award winners, or they just didn’t get the widespread attention that their success and entertainment value warranted. Here are 8 underrated Bollywood movies you should watch right now!

1. The Lunch Box

Credit: IMDb

When it comes to movies, everyone has a list of personal favorites. However, there are a lot of great films that never get appreciated by audiences for one reason or another. The Lunch Box is one of those underrated gems from our perspective. A “flaw” in delivering the lunch box leads to a peculiar bond between Saajan (Irrfan Khan) and Ila (Nimrat Kaur).

2. Vicky Donor

Underrated Bollywood Movie
Credit: IMDb

If you’re looking for an underrated Bollywood movie, it doesn’t get much better than Vicky Donor. This rags-to-riches comedy is a thought-provoking look at sperm donation and how it can affect a person’s life in ways they never expected. No matter what age you are, I promise that Vicky Donor will make you laugh your ass off.

3. Udaan

Underrated Bollywood Movie List
Credit: IMDb

This 2010 film, directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and starring Rajat Barmecha and Ronit Roy, is about a young boy who runs away from home to follow his dreams. Filmed in beautiful locations in Rajasthan, it has an art-house feel that’s quite similar to Italian neorealism. Udaan was chosen as India’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards. One of the best-underrated Bollywood movies out there for sure.

4. Swades

Underrated Bollywood Movie
Credit: IMDb

If you were to tell me before I saw Swades that it would be a top underrated Bollywood movie, I’d look at you like you had three heads. But here we are.

5. Tumbbad

Underrated Bollywood Movie List
Credit: IMDb

A terrifying example of why folklore is never meant to be shown on screen, Tumbbad is a movie that introduces us to an ordinary family living in one of India’s poorest regions. An epic mythological tale mixed with horrific human emotions, Tumbbad takes our breath away as we watch its main character grow older while his quest for power worsens. With no shortage of fear-inducing moments or spectacular and colorful set pieces, Tumbbad is a perfectly underrated Bollywood movie that you must absolutely watch.

6. Aligarh

Underrated Bollywood Movie
Credit: IMDb

Deeply emotional and intensely powerful, Aligarh tells a love story in which no one is a victim, no one is a martyr and all decisions are rational ones. Aligarh takes you on an intense journey of human emotions and what it means to be different in a world that refuses to accept difference. The top underrated Bollywood movies list would be incomplete without mentioning Aligarh.

7. Rocket Singh – Salesman of the Year

Underrated Bollywood Movie
Credit: IMDb

This satirical comedy highlights why employees aren’t putting in their best efforts. Set against a backdrop of disinterested management, Rocket Singh is a fictitious film that draws parallels to Indian bureaucracy and posits how to change things for the better. While fictional, it’s not far from reality. The movie is still funny, even if your office isn’t exactly like it. If you watch just one underrated Bollywood movie on our list, make it Rocket Singh – Salesman of The Year.

8. Har Kisse Ke Hisse Kaamyaab

Underrated Bollywood Movie
Credit: IMDb

Kaamyaab is an underrated Bollywood movie that you need to watch. It’s a great movie dauntlessly directed by Hardik Mehta. Underrated Bollywood movie like Kaamyaab deserves appreciation from the audience. Brilliantly acted by Sanjay Mishra. But what sets it apart from other movies is its brilliant script and complex themes.

9. Newton

Underrated Bollywood Movie
Credit: IMDb

Newton is an underrated Bollywood movie you need to watch if you’re a fan of thought-provoking and intelligent movies. Movies which you can’t afford to miss watching while in India. The movie stars a few of our favorite Bollywood actors like Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Sanjay Mishra, Raghubir Yadav, Anjali Patil, etc. If you ask us why we suggest Newton for underrated Bollywood movies then it’s because despite being a fairly recent one (Released on January 9th, 2017), Newton is one of those films that has failed to leave an impact among viewers.

10. Masaan

Underrated Bollywood Movie - Masaan
Credit: IMDb

Director Neeraj Ghaywan’s 2015 romantic drama tells a gut-wrenching story of a young couple struggling with the social stigma. This award-winning film was inspired by real-life incidents that took place in North India and highlight issues of caste and class. Featuring some amazing cinematography and an incredible performance by newcomer Vicky Kaushal, Masaan is often considered to be one of the most underrated Bollywood movies of all time. It even made it to TIME magazine’s list of top 10 must-watch Bollywood films. If you haven’t seen it yet, do check it out!

Hindi cinema is one of the biggest in the world, and India produces movies at an astonishing rate. It’s hard to keep up with all of them, especially if you aren’t living in the country itself or familiar with the culture. With this list of underrated Bollywood movies of all time, we offered you the chance to find some great titles that will entertain you and let you learn more about Hindi cinema at the same time.

The post 10 Underrated Bollywood Movies Of All Time You Need To Watch appeared first on MEWS.

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Vintage Kyle Hendricks leads the Chicago Cubs to a shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals: ‘Everything was working’

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Vintage Kyle Hendricks leads the Chicago Cubs to a shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals: ‘Everything was working’

There’s no question Kyle Hendricks has suffered through some difficult starts in 2022, his second straight subpar season with the Chicago Cubs.

Hendricks came into Friday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals having allowed six runs or more in four of his 13 starts, leading to a bloated earned-run average of 5.43. It’s not the Hendricks the Cubs have come to expect, though it’s also not the same kind of contending team he has enjoyed playing for during the bulk of his career.

But Cubs fans got a glimpse of vintage Hendricks on Friday night at Busch Stadium, and it was every bit as good as they remembered.

“That was as good as I’ve seen him this year,” manager David Ross said. “Everything was working.”

Hendricks tossed 7 ⅓ shutout innings in a 3-0 victory before 46,524, the largest crowd of the season at Busch.

The Cubs won for only the fifth time in 19 games, silencing the first-place Cardinals in the opener of their first series of the season in St. Louis.

“It was really Yan (Gomes) tonight,” Hendricks said of the game plan. “It was what he was able to do. I recognized it from the start. I trusted him the whole game. There was a couple shakes where I was committed to something and a couple shakes where I shouldn’t have.”

Hendricks allowed five hits while striking out six and walking one in a 91-pitch outing, improving to 3-6. Chris Martin and David Robertson finished if off, with Robertson collecting his ninth save in 12 opportunities.

Hendricks allowed only two base runners in the first five innings. Juan Yepez singled with two outs in the second but was thrown out at second to end the inning. Paul Goldschmidt walked with two outs in the fifth before Hendricks retired Brendan Donovan on a fly to center.

After Dylan Carlson singled to open the eighth and Harrison Bader doubled, Hendricks struck out pinch hitter Lars Nootbar before Martin replaced him. The Cubs reliever induced a comebacker to the mound and a soft liner to short to strand the runners.

“When you come in a game, whether you’re up five or down five, you try to get your mind right for the whole situation,” Martin said. “But definitely whenever you go out and pick up a teammate, you’re more amped up after that. It makes baseball fun in those situations. It’s where the bullpen wants to be and a big confidence boost.”

The Cubs scored their runs on Nico Hoerner’s two-run homer in the second off rookie Andre Pallante and Ian Happ’s RBI double in the fifth. Happ came into the night with a .367 average in his previous 22 games, quietly emerging as the co-leader of the offense along with Willson Contreras.

Ross before the game said Happ has proved he’s an “All-Star caliber” player.

“Ian has been our All-Star, he and Willson,” Ross said. “Those guys have really stood out above the rest for us. It’s nice to see the veteran guys play that consistently.”

But Hendricks was the man in the spotlight Friday.

“Vintage Kyle,” Ross said. “He locks it in when the stage is big.”

Whether it looked like the Hendricks of old, he said he doesn’t think of a performance like Friday as a reminder of something in the past.

“Somewhat, but it feels so long ago,” he said. “I’m really trying to focus on where I’m at and just seeing the game for what it is, taking it and knowing where to go and making my pitches. Yan really helped me today feel the game better. I just haven’t had that great feel for what they’re trying to do against me. He was huge getting me in that mindset.”

Hendricks is such a low-key individual he appears the same every day no matter how he’s performing. After the struggles he has gone through in the last two seasons, has he ever gotten so upset that he breaks something?

“No, not breaking stuff, man,” he said with a laugh. “I just get frustrated and just got to get to work. There’s nothing I can do to change it. Now it’s just get to work and make the next one better. Obviously it’s not where I want to be. There’s not anger or anything like that. Just got to make better pitches — that’s where my focus is.”

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Chicago White Sox manage only 1 hit in a heated 4-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles — their 3rd straight defeat

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Chicago White Sox manage only 1 hit in a heated 4-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles — their 3rd straight defeat

Austin Voth and four relievers combined on a one-hitter, Jorge Mateo had a heated exchange with Chicago White Sox starter Michael Kopech after getting nailed by a pitch and the Baltimore Orioles won 4-1 on Friday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Voth, normally a reliever, went three innings in his second start. He gave up an RBI double to Jake Burger in the second for the White Sox’s only hit.

Joey Krehbiel (3-3) worked 2 ⅓ perfect innings before Bryan Baker and Cionel Pérez each got four outs. Jorge López pitched the ninth for his 13th save in 15 chances, helping the Orioles win their third straight and fourth in five games.

After outscoring the Washington Nationals and the White Sox by a combined 11-0 over the previous two games, the Orioles cruised in this one too.

The only real drama occurred in the second inning after Kopech (2-4) retired the first two batters. He nailed Mateo near the left shoulder and upper back with a similar pitch to the one that hit Sox second baseman Josh Harrison on Thursday.

Mateo had some words for Kopech. The benches and bullpens emptied, but no punches were thrown. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde argued with crew chief Marvin Hudson, and both teams were issued warnings.

Mateo stole second and came around on a single by Richie Martin to make it 2-0.

Cedric Mullins led off the game with a bunt single and scored on a wild pitch.

Rookie Adley Rutschman doubled in the fourth and scored on a balk. Austin Hays added an RBI double in the eighth to extend the lead to 4-1.

The White Sox dropped their third in a row, and Kopech lost his second straight start. The right-hander went six-plus innings, allowing three runs and three hits.

  • White Sox third baseman Yoán Moncada (right hamstring strain) might be ready to return from the 10-day injured list when he is eligible Tuesday, manager Tony La Russa said. … Center fielder Luis Robert was back in the lineup after being held out Thursday because of an unspecified injury.

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