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Chicago Cubs notes: Keegan Thompson’s stuff dazzles in return, while Esteban Quiroz’s 1st start is worth the wait

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A month layoff didn’t appear to faze Keegan Thompson or the quality of his stuff.

Hours after the Chicago Cubs activated the right-hander from the 15-day injured list, Thompson tossed three scoreless innings and struck out six to secure a 4-3 win against the Miami Marlins at LoanDepot Park. The Cubs rallied on Patrick Wisdom’s solo homer in the seventh and three runs without a hit in the eighth.

Thompson felt he was moving too quickly when facing the first batter of each inning but was able to settle down and get in a rhythm.

“It was nice to come out there and show that they had the confidence to go out there and that I can finish it,” Thompson said. “It’s just nice to finish the year and finish strong and not finish on the IL, go out there and keep throwing and give us a chance to win.”

Thompson was out with low back tightness and will be used out of the bullpen, where he looks to finish strong the next two weeks. In 104⅓ innings entering Wednesday, Thompson owned a 3.97 ERA, 1.313 WHIP, 2.46 strikeout-to-walk rate and a 104 ERA+ through 25 games (17 starts).

“You never know with having some time off how it’s going to react,” manager David Ross said. “Not a lot of pressure early on in the outing, and he settled in. … I thought he settled in nicely once he got his groove and then to close it out right there. Never saw him flinch. He looked like the guy we’ve seen have a lot of success all year.”

Rookie reliever Jeremiah Estrada, whom the Cubs optioned to Triple-A Iowa before Wednesday’s series finale as the corresponding move for Thompson, left a strong impression in his last outing.

The 23-year-old right-hander walked the first batter he faced Monday in Miami before recovering to strike out the side. Estrada finished with two scoreless innings, his best outing since he debuted Aug. 30 in Toronto.

Estrada’s five appearances — with two runs allowed in 5⅔ innings — represent a small big-league sample size, but manager David Ross noted how the rookie has shown flashes of stuff.

Ross’ message to Estrada centered on continuing to work on his strengths and weaknesses because he could be recalled at some point.

“It’s some real swing and miss that stands out to me,” Ross said Wednesday. “He had a couple of bumps in the road there, which is expected. Just talking to him, helping him continue to develop and the things he wants to work on. Finding a strong routine that he believes in consistently and staying on that, working toward that.

“We’ve seen it before, some guy goes down and something happens up here and they’re right back.”

Esteban Quiroz’s memorable night

Esteban Quiroz’s professional baseball career traces back to his native Mexico, where he spent his first seven pro years in the Mexican League.

He didn’t join a minor-league affiliate until 2018 with the Boston Red Sox. Stints with three major-league organizations over the next four years eventually led him to the Cubs as part of a March trade with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Quiroz, 30, made his first major-league start Tuesday and collected his first hit and made a pair of nice defensive plays at second base, prompting Ross to declare after the game that Quiroz would be back in the lineup Wednesday.

Quiroz led off in the series finale and made another smooth play at second to help starter Marcus Stroman. His sacrifice bunt opened the scoring in the eighth after back-to-back walks by Zach McKinstry and Christopher Morel.

A throwing error by Marlins pitcher Steven Okert on the play allowed McKinstry to score and Quiroz and Morel to reach second and third.

“Once I saw the video, I think the pitcher didn’t think I have that speed in me,” Quiroz said through an interpreter. “But I’m just here to give my effort, give my 100%. I ran as fast as I could and I’m just here to help the team win, give it my all and try to help them out.”

While these final two weeks carry no postseason meaning for the Cubs, they remain important to players such as Quiroz who are appreciating their major-league opportunity.

“It was a very humbling experience, really,” Quiroz said. “I dreamt of this moment. I was thinking about it a lot. It’s something that I’ve worked for. And (Monday) night they let me know that I was going to start the game.

“I started focusing on what I needed to do to be prepared to have the best start that I could. The three at-bats back in Chicago, I didn’t really perform the way that I wanted to. So I want to make sure I went out there and performed well.”

Marcus Stroman’s important pitch

The called strikes keep coming.

Stroman’s sinker has been particularly effective lately. After recording 14 called strikes with the pitch in his last start, his most since the beginning of the 2018 season, Stroman again had hitters guessing Wednesday with 10 called strikes with his sinker.

Stroman, as he typically does, relied predominantly on a sinker-slider combination versus the Marlins. He allowed three runs and five hits in six innings while walking one batter and striking out seven, one shy of his season high.

All three runs came off two home runs in the fifth. Nick Fortes took a 2-0 sinker deep to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead, and Lewin Diaz followed two batters later with a solo shot.

“I felt good to be honest,” Stroman said. “Even those pitches, I could have thrown the cutter a little deeper. He took a really good swing on that cutter in and then the sinker away. I probably should have thrown that sinker middle-middle. You live and you learn.

“They could have popped it up and it could have been a different story. So, yeah, in hindsight, I probably should have made a little better execution with location.”

Ross credits Stroman’s sinker usage as the root of the right-hander’s success since returning from the IL in July.

“It’s been his best pitch well before he got here, but the main thing is he got back to using that a little bit more and having confidence in that,” Ross said. “That’s what I’ve seen and I think everything plays off that. He’s a really confident guy, especially when he has that two-seamer going and he’s been able to land the off-speed for strikes off that.”

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Biden cancels DNC rally appearance in Orlando next week as Tropical Storm Ian strengthens over the Caribbean Sea

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Biden Cancels Dnc Rally Appearance In Orlando Next Week As Tropical Storm Ian Strengthens Over The Caribbean Sea
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President Joe Biden has postponed his planned trip to Florida due to Tropical Storm Ian threatening the Caribbean Sea.

It was scheduled to travel to Orlando to headline a rally for the Democratic National Convention (DNC) on September 27, but the major storm is expected to strengthen to Category 3 or 4 before making landfall in the continental United States.

Biden declared a state of emergency for Florida on Saturday and authorized the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist in recovery efforts for those affected by the storm.

The White House did not say when the president intended to postpone his trip.

DESANTIS DECLARES EMERGENCY AS STORM EXPECTED TO REACH FLORIDA

US President Joe Biden on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, US, Friday, September 23, 2022.
(Bonnie Cash/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

On Saturday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties. He also urges Florida residents to prepare for his arrival.

“This storm has the potential to develop into a major hurricane and we encourage all Floridians to be prepared,” DeSantis said in a statement. “We are coordinating with all state and local government partners to monitor the potential impacts of this storm.”

A Publix Store In Metrowest Was Nearly Sold Out On Saturday September 24, 2022 In Orlando, Florida.

A Publix store in Metrowest was nearly sold out on Saturday September 24, 2022 in Orlando, Florida.
(Cristobal Reyes/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“I encourage all Floridians to continue to monitor the storm and listen to local officials,” DeSantis said.

NASA DELAYS LUNAR ROCKET LAUNCH DUE TO POTENTIAL HURRICANE

Tropical Storm Ian is strengthening over warm Caribbean waters and since Saturday evening has sustained winds of around 45 mph. It is moving west at 16 mph.

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This Satellite Image Provided By The National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration Shows Tropical Storm Ian Over The Central Caribbean On Saturday, September 24, 2022.

This satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Tropical Storm Ian over the central Caribbean on Saturday, September 24, 2022.
(NOAA via AP)

Computer forecast models show the storm moving west of Tampa and making landfall over the Florida panhandle early next week. The storm will continue to strengthen rapidly over the next few days.

Tara Prindiville of Fox News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Families Dress Toddlers As Babies To Avoid Rising Disney Park Prices

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Families Dress Toddlers As Babies To Avoid Rising Disney Park Prices
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Ticket prices are so high at Disney resorts that some parents apparently dress up toddlers as babies to avoid the cost.

A recent TikTok video of a mother dressing up a toddler as a baby in a stroller has gone viral with the mum in the video unrepentant at the economic trickery.

“We [paid] for our tickets and witnessed the funniest thing we have ever seen so we decided to share it so you can laugh too,” one woman said in the video, according to the New York Post.

The video sparked a debate over the practice with many commentators backing the mum since prices at Disney resorts skyrocketed.

The newspaper notes that admission to Disney World ranges from $109 to $159 per person for a day ticket. The park also maintains that anyone aged three and over must pay the full ticket price.

Some former Disney gate employees even responded to the message and said they were always instructed to just let it go when parents tried this ploy.

Disneyland also drives up the prices. The park has increased its ticket prices this year, and as a result, its premier ticket costs $1,599 per person.

The park has let visitors know that its old $1,399 per person pass was scrapped at the start of the 2022 season. But the higher fees aren’t the only price change. Ticket prices have increased across the board at Disneyland this year. Its lowest package increased by $100 per person while several other tiers increased by $50.

Disneyland also raised prices last year.

With costs rising at all Disney properties, the costs of visiting theme parks have soared out of reach for the average American family, Fox Business Network reported in May.

Disney’s price hike comes amid a nationwide rise in inflation that has Americans scrambling to pay for daily necessities, such as food, gas and energy, as even as wages stagnate and fail to keep up with inflation.

The price hikes also come on the heels of Disney’s rampant leap into leftist politics with its vocal and extremely public political campaign to stop Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act – which bars kindergarten to third grade to be exposed to gender identity politics in the classroom.

Disney lost its battle to stop the law that would prevent preteen children from being exposed to radical left-wing gender politics in schools across the sunny state. But, despite the loss, Disney chief Bob Chapek has vowed to continue the fight to have the Common Sense Act repealed.

The full-frontal attack on Florida’s children prompted state Republicans to pass a bill that dismantled Disney’s special tax jurisdiction, reversing decades-old tax breaks and social exclusions that had been implemented in the mid-1960s.

The shift to left-leaning politics as well as its continued policy of pushing the radical gay agenda into all aspects of its entertainment properties has sent shares of the company plummeting, adding to the 30% free fall in share value. company over the past 12 months. And on April 20, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reported Disney as its worst performing stock of the year.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston, or Truth Social @WarnerToddHuston

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Funding India’s airline growth plans and why an overhaul is needed

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Funding India'S Airline Growth Plans And Why An Overhaul Is Needed
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With interest rates rising, the rupee depreciating and yields falling, some airlines are facing a real challenge. Namely, finance growth. The old ways won’t hold up. An overhaul is needed, writes aviation expert Satyendra Pandey

The past decade has seen voluminous aircraft orders by Indian airlines. Collectively, Indian airlines operate a fleet of around 600 aircraft. More than 80% of this fleet is rented. Add to that an aircraft order pipeline of 850 aircraft that need to be funded and deployed. For weaker players without the support of a strong parent company or balance sheet, deploying and funding these assets slowly becomes a challenge. And with interest rates rising, the rupee depreciating and yields falling, some airlines are facing a real challenge. Namely, finance growth. The old ways won’t hold up. A reflection is necessary.

Overreliance on sale-and-leaseback

The sale-leaseback model was made popular by Indigo and guided by the three pillars of planning, volumes and pricing. Specifically, Indigo focused on two years of extensive planning, including contingencies; a large order of 100 aircraft in 2005 with several subsequent orders; and asset pricing that was expertly negotiated. Together, these elements have helped the airline to establish itself firmly in the Indian market. Other airlines quickly saw proof of this success and moved forward with their own large orders. But they only focused on one or at best two pillars of the Indigo model. Sale-leasebacks were the main method of financing orders.

A sale and leaseback (SLB) model is where the airline acquires the aircraft at an attractive price and sells it to a lessor – ideally at a profit – and leases it for its own use. SLBs are important because they generate cash and also help the airline manage its fleet flexibility. Additionally, as the airline introduces new aircraft, operating costs, including maintenance costs, remain competitive. Shorter fleet replacement cycles also allow the airline to introduce new technologies more quickly. But the flip side is that airlines end up with thin asset balance sheets, over time they end up paying more for the asset. And when clauses are not fully provisioned, it causes difficulties for both the airline and the lessor. This is a fact that is gradually emerging.

The end of the last decade saw an era of low interest rates, smooth aircraft orders and a highly competitive leasing industry. With several new lessors eager to do business, airlines were offered very attractive terms without the solvency that would normally be required. But unfortunately, that’s just not the case with the industry today.

Structural issues, including balance sheet strength, continue to be overlooked

With changing macro-economic and geopolitical conditions, the aircraft finance market, particularly the sale-leaseback market, has seen marked changes. Donors are reviewing risk profiles and there is a flight to quality. Add to that the fact that the cost of capital across the globe is rising, and in the aircraft leasing space, lessor consolidation is underway. In the Indian market, this means that the strongest and best capitalized airlines are able to negotiate fairly competitive deals while the weaker ones struggle. Some airlines are considering a scenario where planes have been ordered, but other aspects such as maintenance, lease terms and asset recycling are not where they need to be. Competitive funding for these is simply not to be found.

Worse, due to weak balance sheets, some airlines are entering into financing deals, including sale-leasebacks, to free up working capital. Add to that the fact that the airline then finds itself with an additional aircraft to deploy and it has an impact on industry returns. And therefore the capacity and tariff wars which will intensify in the short term to the detriment of cash flow and profitability. Capital calls are almost certain.

As of this writing, structural issues, including balance sheet strength, continue to be overlooked. The pandemic laid bare the loopholes and for lenders looking for assets on the balance sheet, they were rare. So came cash flow liens, promises of future funding, and continual deferral, delay, renegotiation, and demands. And for some fault lines were never quite addressed. This situation is untenable to say the least and only postpones the inevitable to a future date.

Diversification of funding needed

For the future, a diversification of funding sources is necessary. Both because sale-and-leaseback without aligning all the fundamentals remains a very expensive form of financing and also because management needs to focus on balance sheets. Otherwise, cash flow liens, emergency lines of credit or, at worst, closure will be the norm and not the reality. And any airline closure is very painful and the scars of the closure continue for years. Indeed, no discussion of Indian aviation is complete without a mention of Kingfisher and the former Jet Airways. Not to mention a host of smaller airlines that have come and gone.

Despite the talk of traffic growth and market potential, when Indian airlines are viewed through the lens of profitability, very few succeed. Consistent profitability that provides an adequate return on capital is lacking. And aircraft being the largest investment costs for airlines, they must be planned, negotiated and deployed with risk in mind. All hopes cannot simply rest on growth. Because when that growth stalls, there’s simply no recourse.

As the market matures, aircraft financing is also set to evolve. Airlines are well advised to look at structures that allow them to have the right to the asset at the right costs and terms. Finance leases and asset purchases that were once avoided could very well be the way forward. Likewise, structures that are fit for purpose and designed for the Indian market taking into consideration market risk, currency risk and credit risk can be the way to go. But these require focused, deliberate and decisive planning. And some departments find themselves so intensely involved in day-to-day firefighting that these are left out.

For Indian aviation, demand is certainly well oriented. And capacity will follow. But this capacity must be financed. And funding Indian airlines’ growth plans is a task in itself. And a reflection is necessary.

—Satyendra Pandey is the managing partner of aviation consultancy AT-TV. Opinions expressed are personal

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College Football Playoff Picks After Week 4

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College Football Playoff Picks After Week 4
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Next week, the college football schedule switches to October, which means about a third of the season has been played, but even less has been settled.

Georgia, Alabama and Ohio State had previously split – unanimous selections every four weeks – but several teams are vying for fourth place.

USC and Clemson became the leaders of this group.

The Trojans struggled for most of Saturday’s game at Oregon State, trailing for the first time this season. USC didn’t take its first lead until early in the fourth quarter and it took a touchdown pass from Caleb Williams to Jordan Addison with 1:13 to give them the final margin.

Clemson survived a Wake Forest-record six touchdown passes from Sam Hartman to beat the Demon Deacons in double overtime and continues to be a playoff factor.

Tennessee earned its first playoff consideration of the season after a 38-33 win over Florida. The Vols are off to their first 4-0 start since 2016, also the last time they defeated the Gators.

Ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press poll, Michigan has yet to convince ESPN voters of its legitimacy. The Woverines’ first three opponents have had no FBS wins at this point and Michigan had their hands full at home against previously undefeated Maryland on Saturday.

With all that in mind, here’s how ESPN’s college football reporters view the current playoff picture.


Andrea Adelson: 1. Georgia 2. Alabama 3. Ohio State 4. Clemson
Blake Baumgartner: 1. Georgia 2. Alabama 3. Ohio State 4. Clemson
Kyle Bonagura: 1. Georgia 2. Alabama 3. Ohio State 4. Clemson
Bill Connell: 1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. Alabama 4. Michigan
Heather Dinich: 1. Ohio State 2. Georgia 3. Alabama 4. USC
David Hall: 1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. Alabama 4. Washington
Harry Lyles Jr.: 1. Georgia 2. Alabama 3. Ohio State 4. USC
Chris Low: 1. Georgia 2. Alabama 3. Ohio State 4. Tennessee
Ryan McGee: 1. Georgia 2. Alabama 3. Ohio State 4. Oregon
Adam Rittenberg: 1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. Alabama 4. Clemson
Alex Scarborough: 1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. Alabama 4. USC
Mark Schlabach: 1. Georgia 2. Alabama 3. Ohio State 4. Clemson
Paulo Uggetti: 1. Georgia 2. Alabama 3. Ohio State 4. USC
Tom VanHaaren: 1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. Alabama 4. USC
David Wilson: 1. Georgia 2. Alabama 3. Ohio State 4. Clemson

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Paris Hilton showcases her signature style as the show returns to Milan

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Paris Hilton Showcases Her Signature Style As The Show Returns To Milan
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It’s hot.

On September 23, Paris Hilton returned to the catwalks for the first time in a year, closing Versace’s Spring/Summer 2023 show during Milan Fashion Week. The simple life alum showcased an ultra-glamorous take on her signature look seen in the early 2000s, wearing a plunging, shimmering pink mini dress paired with hot pink fingerless gloves and a matching veil and stilettos.

“Live on the catwalk and close the show for @Versace Spring/Summer 2023,” Paris wrote on Instagram. “Thank you @Donatella_Versace for this iconic night! #It’s hot #Sliving #Versace #MFW #Barbiecore.”

The Paris in love The star, who last walked on a catwalk at the Blonds’ NYFW show in September 2021, was joined at the Versace presentation by other runway models Emily Ratajkowski, Irina Sheikhand Bella Hadid and sister Gigi Hadid. Seated in the front row were other celebrities such as the model Camila Morrone—including ex-boyfriend Leonardo DiCaprio was recently romantically linked to Gigi, Norman, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Graham.

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Hilaria Baldwin gives birth to her 7th child with Alec Baldwin, ‘Ilaria Catalina Irena’

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Hilaria Baldwin Gives Birth To Her 7Th Child With Alec Baldwin, 'Ilaria Catalina Irena'
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Sept. 24 (UPI) — Hilaria Baldwin gave birth Thursday to Ilaria Catalina Irena Baldwin, her seventh child with Alec Baldwin and her eighth, she announced on Instagram Saturday.

” She’s there ! We are thrilled to present our little dream come true,” Hilaria Baldwin wrote in the caption of her post.

“She and I are happy and healthy. Her Baldwinito siblings spend the day bonding and welcoming her into our home. Lots of love to you all. We are very happy to celebrate this wonderful news with you.

Ilaria, weighing 6lb 13oz, is now the couple’s youngest child after Carmen, 9; Raphael, 7 years old; Leonard, 5 years old; Romeo, 4 years old; and Eduardo and Lucia — who are both under 2 years old.

The mother explained how Lucia, just six months younger than her brother Eduardo, was born via surrogate in an Instagram post in August 2021.

“Whenever I meet people and they ask me the age of my children, I wait for their awkward moment when they calculate the age difference of my last two babies. I have not yet found the transparent way to explain it,” Hilaria Baldwin said at the time.

“What I do know is that I’m so existential now, becoming a mom, what makes us family, bonds, communities… what makes us belong. The paths and nuances may be different, but meaning is what gives meaning to our existence.

Alec Baldwin, 64, shares another child, Ireland Baldwin, 26, with ex-wife Kim Basinger.

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