As I waited for the final out in yesterday’s game against the Giants, I couldn’t help but get misty and weepy eyed when Len Kasper cheered, “Cubs win! Four in a row!” Yup folks, the Cubs are playing .500 ball. The Cubs my friends, are winners. So, let’s switch it over to Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks and his thoughts:
Ok, now that everyone has gotten their tissue in hand and checked their calendar for validity; it is still March. This is real and in a few weeks we’ll start all over again. Just so you know.
They played against the Giants Former World Series champions, and some folks feel are still that championship calibre team. I don’t. They’re still very good, but not the same team. Yet, the Cubs did something yesterday that eluded them for much of last season and that was to come from behind in the late innings.
“They’re a great team to work against, a former world championship team,” Jeff Samardzija said. “They come with a plan, a lot of smart players who have played together for a long time. You really get tested on days like this. I thought it went excellent. I gave up a couple runs, and singles that score runs, you can live with that.”
The Cubs are four games out of first in the Cactus League. They’re capitalizing on other team’s errors and showing their mettle with the young players. It’s only practice but what the Cubs are doing is really playing smart ball. Amid trade rumours with Jeff Samardzija, the Cubs are soldiering on which is the way it should be. I don’t think The Shark is going anywhere as long as he’s winning, and he shouldn’t. Jeff’s earned the right to lead the rotation and help bring a World Series to the long suffering fans of the North Side(check Wikepedia again)
“I’m not about to come in and say my mind’s shaken because of this or that — it’s not going to happen,” he said. “I’m going to go out and do my job. If I win, I win because I did that, and if I don’t win, it’s because I don’t perform up to the task. That’s how I look at it. I’m a very practical guy and it’s black and white for me. Right now I’m wearing a Cubs uniform and that’s how I’m approaching it.”
We live in an era where there’s no loyalty in team sports, but somehow I truly believe that Samardzija wants to stay a Cub. There’s a certain familiarity to seeing that leader go to the mound on Opening Day and start fresh. It’s a new season and new expectations.
We talk about commitment and changing a team’s culture. Stability is the key. If Samardzija is having a tough season, make him happy and he’ll do great things for the club. Baseball’s funny that way.
In real life it’s all about us working Joe stiffs at the water coolers and the lunch rooms complaining about salaries, price of tickets and $200 jerseys.
Man, I wish I could hit a 95 MPH fastball off a guy named Shark.
There’s a funny and peculiar thing happening at the Cubs camp this spring; They’re winning. The Cubs record is 5-6 and it’s not .500 but folks, it’s a good thing. Of course, there’s a lot of factors at work here. Teams are playing prospects, it’s a relaxed environment and it’s pretty much batting practice. You know the drill.
The difference with the Cubs however, is the PROMISE and COMMITMENT to winning. Check out the Cubs website and you’ll see the words Committed. There’s a double entendre happening, but I’m going to take the dedication of changing the culture around the team.
We know Theo Epstein’s track record. He’s a winner wherever he goes. A smart man indeed. Check Wikepedia if you want to get an in depth history of the Cubs. If you’re lazy, my grandmother turned 99 this year and she ain’t ever seen the Cubs win a World Series. C’mon Cubs do it for my grandmother!
In order for the Cubs to get to that goal, they’re going to need their aces to keep up the consistency and patience at the plate. Anthony Rizzo needs to hit, Starlin Castro needs his focus, Darwin Barney has to be disciplined with his defence and Javier Baez, Albert Almora and Kris Bryant are all going to have to make believers out of Theo Epstein.
The last couple of games have been a shooting gallery. 9-0 and 10-8 victories. Nobody’s planning the parade just yet, but the excitement this spring is a little contagious don’t you think? people come up to me and ask me how the Cubs are going to do this year? Oh sure I hear the jokes, but when I tell them about the young talent brewing in the system, suddenly those jokes change to,”Hey Mark, I saw some highlights in the game yesterday.” All right, you can fill in a joke there if you want.
I don’t believe in curses, myths or any other blame games. I believe in poor decisions and bad management. This year’s installment of the Cubs is different for all of the right reasons. They’re young, talented and have something to prove.
That’s something to believe in, brother.
Something really good happened in yesterday’s 1-0 loss to the surging Cleveland Indians. Travis Wood had three strong innings and provided good defence.
To say it was an important game could be an understatement as pretty much every game this spring is an important one. There will always be growing pains but it’s these learning curves like the Justin Grimm loaded bases incident in the fourth.
Hey, a 1-0 loss is the kind of loss a team wants to have.
Today’s going to prove a turning point in spring ball when the Cubs have a split squad game against the Indians and the Angels.
Javier Baez is at shortstop and Mike Olt will have his chance at DH. Kris Bryant will have a shot at third. It’s no secret I’d like to see all these guys crack the lineup.
Another strong outfielder is Ryan Sweeney. An outfield with Junior Lake, Sweeney and Nate Schierholtz is a pretty good outfield to me. He’s just as excited about the Cub’s prospects as the rest of us too.
“It’s understandable,” Sweeney said. “A lot of us were top prospects at one time and people are excited about them coming up to the big leagues. When they do good, it’s fun for you guys to talk about them.”
Which begs the question, “Which one of the prospects will crack Opening Day?”
I could pull out a pun in yesterday’s 7-5 loss against the Colorado Rockies, but I’ve made a solemn oath to keep all puns to a minimum this season. Yes, although it’s tempting, I’ve got to refrain from such demeaning attempts at humour against my beloved Northsiders.
Javier Baez continues to impress this spring with his raw power begging the question, “How long is too long before he’s ready?”
Rick, Theo, Jed; Hell, Mr. Ricketts:
Javier Baez is ready! Find him a spot on the roster for Opening Day. Please find him a spot. Don’t make me whip out John Fogerty’s song because I’ll march right down to the offices at Wrigley Field no matter how cold it is in Chicago because folks, it’s cold in the windy city but it’s colder in Canada. I’m used to this adversity and I will stand outside with a borrowed guitar and sing “Centerfield” at the top of my lungs and well, I really can’t play and my singing is best kept inside the friendly confines of my Hyundai. Trust me.
Yesterday, Javier cracked another home run. Yes, how many home runs? He’s got two Keep it coming. Also, Catcher George Kottaras banged a zinger over the fence. Whatever happens this spring, Rick Renteria has it tough.
Before I pack my guitar and my bags and head on down to those offices, I’m not getting excited, it’s only spring ball and there’s plenty of games and evaluations left. The cobwebs are getting dusted and Jeff Samardzija is cleaning the Shark Tank out.
He looked a little shaky but it was his first start and I’m not the least bit worried.
The Cubs play the Indians today, going to be a good one!
Ok, I can’t resist.
The Chicago Cubs have a lot riding on this season. Odds of them winning the World Series are slim to none and making the playoffs are better than Alex Rodriguez admitting to his mistakes. They still have a shot.
There are choices to be made this spring and with every spring training game being a showcase for the depth that the Cubs have in their farm, it’s going to get harder and harder.
Fans have been holding up their Javier Baez signs hoping that he makes it to Opening Day. If Starlin Castro has anything to say, well, why not?
“Maybe, I don’t know,” Castro said. “I don’t make that decision. It would be good for us if he’s there.”
Personally, the Cubs need him. The Cubs might not be looking at this season as the year that they contend, but I challenge Theo Epstein and the coaching staff to give it their best. The last few years have been dismal. There’s nowhere to go but up. They have to improve from their 66 wins last year to I’d say 80-85 wins this year. That’s a fact. They’re in a tough division and it would strike fear in the other clubs if the Cubs brought up their young talent, if not for the whole season, maybe fluctuate throughout.
I’ve spoken highly of Rick Renteria’s involvement with the club. He’s a communicator and that’s what they need.
Should Luis Valbuena be a lock at third. Well, Mike Olt who was one of the players involved that sent matt Garza to the Rangers, has certainly sticking his thorns into that third base bag. He got a crucial home run yesterday.
“It’s really not me getting hits,” he said. “It’s about me seeing the ball well and that’s my main goal in Spring Training. Obviously, you want hits and you want to perform, but the main goal in Spring Training is to get comfortable and it’s definitely a noticeable difference just the way I feel right now, and that’s what I’m happy about.”
We’re happy too, Mike.
If anything, this is the most important year in the Theo Epstein era with the Cubs. Fans have got to buy in with his plan and the big word around the club is, “Patience”
Be warned though, “Patience” wears thin.
Did anyone see the rocket that Javier Baez fired into the stands yesterday? Well folks, he just might make the lineup for Opening Day. No kidding. With Starlin Castro out for a week or so, Baez has proven he can play with the best of them. He also gave the Cubs their first win this spring. not too bad at all.
So, the burning question on every Cubs fans mind today is, “Does he deserve to be there this season?”
One game doesn’t make a ball player, but if yesterday’s home run is any indication; I say, “Why not?”
Hey listen, short stop is Starlin’s spot, there’s no question about that, but Baez could play other spots and yet, he could take over for Starlin if Castro has another disastrous season. That’s a huge What If?
This spring is going to prove that the Cubs have some tough decisions to make and I still think they should just experiment and have fun this year. See what happens.
The Cubs will get a good look at Kyle Hendricks today against the Athletics.
I was really glad to see Ryan Braun back. What a guy, what power. An amazing player, truly gifted.
No. Give back that MVP, bonehead.
The Cubs are still in the hunt for their first win of the 2014 Cactus League campaign. Is anyone surprised? Not really. it’s to be expected by fans, management and team alike. They are after all, evaluating and trying to see the pop within the group and where every player is going to fit in with the 2014 edition of the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs have players that are hitting for power in Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez. They have their potential leads off man in Starlin Castro and their stable of young players. So where does the team stand so far? After three games and no wins(not counting the two cancelled games on the weekend) Not bad.
Castro left the game against the Royals early with a hamstring injury which isn’t too serious and should work itself out soon. There’s competition in camp for the lead off spot between Castro and Emilio Bonifacio.
“Starlin has the ability to put the bat on the ball pretty much anywhere,” Renteria said. “He handles the bat, he can manipulate the barrel quite well. He could fit in the [No. 2] slot quite easy. He’s a guy who was a 200-hit a year guy, so that’s a lot of hits. Having a guy who can get on base whether through a walk or hit is pretty good.”
It’s Starlin’s job for the taking. He needs the lead off to really elevate his game to the next level.
So here’s the thing: The Cubs are 0-3 while the Toronto Blue Jays are 3-2. While the comparisons between the two teams are minimal, with Dioner Navarro making the switch to the north; I believe the Jays have a lot riding on this year`s edition of the Blue Birds. While the Cub are really trying to find their swing and despite this year`s struggles that the Cubs will face, they`re in that good spot where they can be the team they want to be in the future.
It`s good to see Dale Sveum at third base.
Arizona`s looking good this time of year. It`s -22 Celsius up here and hopefully they`ll spread some sunshine and warmth up here.
Well, I wasn’t expecting that. The Angels trounced our fearless Cubs 15-3. All right, maybe I was expecting that. It’s the freakin’ Angels!
The great news is that fans caught glimpses of Kris Bryant and Javier Baez which is exactly what all this spring training hoopla is all about, right? Well, Kris Bryant blasted a two run shot at his first At Bat. Now, that’s pretty awesome stuff. Any Naysayers out there? I didn’t think so. Even though it’s spring heat and in all likelihood there’s a miracle in Chicago, Bryant will be sent down at the end of the month. That’s okay too. Why? Because there’s something happening in the Cubs organization. Something fantastic.
“I felt good up there. I was not nervous at all and saw a lot of pitches, which was good,” Bryant said. “Home runs don’t mean anything if you don’t win the game, so that’s a little disappointing. For myself, it was a good performance.”
Not all of the prospects had a great outing, well, I shouldn’t say that but in Bryant’s case it was a little skill and a little luck. Albert Almoras had a hit and Javier Baez and Jorge Soler showed their gracefulness in their swings.
I like Kris Bryant. he says all the right things and I’m seeing a lot of chemistry with the prospects. Which is good. I like what Rick Renteria is doing by letting these kids play. They might not be ready this year, but dropping them in against tough teams like the Angels is just going to boost their confidence. I still believe that they might end up at Wrigley sometime this year. Late this year, but the Cubs are in a good position to do that. They’re a dangerous team on the cusp of something really special.
Another talent that has gotten some notice is Starlin Castro. Once the darling of the MLB, last season he fell into a slump, but if his game against the Diamondbacks is any indication of the return to form that most Cubs fans have been waiting for, well folks, maybe Starlin Castro is back.
“I hope to see basically a young man who is trying to put himself back on the level of playing that he did a few years ago,” Renteria said. “That kid is still there.
This is what I’m talking about with Renteria. I think finally the Cubs have the right guy for the job. He believes in the talent and growth of the young players but this is all new with Rick. A first time manager with respect and admiration across the board. Now, he’s got to groom Castro into a leader because once the prospects come up in Bryant, Soler, Baez and Almora; Starlin won’t be “The Kid” anymore. He’ll be the leader on the team and the guy passing on his wisdom. Much like Anthony Rizzo will be.
Let’s Play Two!
All the Pomp of opening a new facility with the Cubs Park is over. It’s an amazing venue and the sellout crowd wasn’t disappointed. Well, at least it was comfortable.
Len and JD were in fine form broadcasting from a warm sunny place. Welcome back boys. We missed you!
I think the thing to take out of any spring training game is that expectations are to evaluate what is working and what isn’t working. Starlin Castro went two for two and looked like the superstar the Cubs were looking for all those years ago. He hit the ball in the sweet spot between first and second. If you look throughout the history of the game, I believe that spot has scored more runs than any other spot on the field. Give me a good bounce any day. The question for Starlin is, “Will he just try to get on base?” He’s the lead off hitter. Get on base, that’s it. No fancy stuff, just hit the ball.
That was a good test for the Cubs facing the Diamondbacks and Paul Goldshmidt. They’re tough and will get everything rolling with the Cubs.
“It feels just like another game,” the Cubs’ Rick Renteria said. “We’re getting ready for the season and today’s the first day of basically a test to see how everybody’s doing. We’re going to use [Spring Training] to see what aspects of the game we need to improve on and basically see where everybody’s at.”
That comes from the man himself. Hey, I like Rick. He’s laid back, but his eyes are always on what’s going on the field. He’s taking notes and evaluating. Believe me folks when I tell you that the Cubs are in good hands.
In front of a sellout crowd hungry for baseball, even though the Cubs lost, they won the crowd.
Today marks the beginning of a long journey that could take us into October. Probably the end of September but you can’t fault a man for dreaming, can you? The Cubs square off against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
This morning we were out braving the blizzard and listening to tunes on the Ipod when that familiar opening to Steve Goodman’s post win classic, “Go Cubs Go” blasts through our Hyundai Elantra (Touring edition for the high rollers out there.)
Now, I posted this last year but there it is again just in case you’re new to the Cubs. The song can be annoying but it’s a comforting tune after they win. Trust me.
Our son loves this song, maybe because it’s easy to sing along with, or perhaps he just doesn’t know the history of the Cubs. To our son, the Cubs are the champions.
It was the song that came after this Cubs anthem that struck a nerve. You see, I’m a huge Stones fan and our son, just like most three year olds do, they want to be like Daddy. I sing this song a lot. It’s an amazing Stones classic, but coming after a nice Cubs anthem is this bit of foreshadowing.
We all know that our beloved Northsiders aren’t expected to do much but provide some rookie excitement this year and I’m looking forward to that.
There’s an amazing bond between Cubs fans across the world. We’re cautiously optimistic. We have unbridled faith and passion in what is beyond our reach. The Holy Grail of baseball. The World Series. The Chicago Cubs haven’t won it in over a hundred years.
Mick Jagger and company might be pessimistic in the future, but I like Steve Goodman’s version of the future a little bit better.
Go Cubs Go!