For The Cubs, When It Rains…

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds

Let’s all give Jeff Samardzija a hug. A big hug. Not only is there a metaphorically “Black Cloud” hanging over the Chicago Cubs, but literally there was a massive rain soaked dugout and bullpen last night in a late rain delayed game against the Cincinnati Reds where the Cubs stumbled to a 3-2 loss.

The Shark tried for his first win of the season and to the Cubs credit, they tried to help him with the win. Starlin Castro had two RBI’s and finally has shrugged off the criticism and is becoming the player the Cubs knew he’d be. Keep it up Starlin!

“I thought I threw pretty good, but sometimes you’re just trying to be too fine,” he said. “Especially early in the game — the leadoff walk, that can’t happen. It wasn’t any missed calls or anything. It was just me putting Hamilton on, it just starts the game off on a bad note.”

Did anyone see the grab by Bonifacio? An amazing catch that left Samardzija shaking his head. However, it was the Reds night with a spectacular grab by Brandon Phillips and Billy Hamilton’s first career homer. Go figure, it’s against the Cubs.

“Today was a 3-2 ballgame,” Rick Renteria said. “I think if we keep edging forward at some point, those will start to come. Hopefully they come in bunches, but right now we really do think about how we play one day at a time. Try to figure out to do anything we possibly can to allow us opportunities to score more runs and take advantage of the pitching we’re getting, because we are getting really good pitching.”

Coach Renteria was ejected from the ball game for the second time this season. Although I like it when a manager sticks up for his players, sometimes it’s just as well to keep one’s mouth closed or as they say in the Great White North, “Ferme la bouche”

Now, as the Cubs head into May, they’re still searching for their first series win of the season. This weekend, they face the Cardinals.

Mark my words folks, the Cubs are going to win this series.

Believe it!

—Mark

A Cubs Fan In Manhattan

My wife and I just got back from New York seeing that awesome play, Hedwig and The Angry Inch. I’ve been out of the loop, so I was kind of relieved that the game yesterday was rained out. I didn’t miss anything. While we were in the Big Apple amidst Yankee Nation, I had a few cat calls wearing my Cubs gear in Time Square.

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We froze on the tour bus. Canadian or not, it was a frigid night on the rooftop of the Grey Line.

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We stopped in at a sandwich shop and the guy at the counter congratulated Wrigley on their 100th birthday. That was really nice of the Yankee fan.

Atlanta Braves were in town but we didn’t have time to check out the game but passed the stadium. Awesome!

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Neil Patrick Harris nailed the show. An incredible performance with awesome music and just announced today, eight Tony Nominations. Well deserved!

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That’s the back of Josh Grobin. Katy Perry was there, but we didn’t see her.

If you get the chance to see the show, go! You won’t be disappointed.

—Mark

Diamondbacks Can’t Crash Cubs Celebration In Wrigley Field 100

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Well ya gotta hand it to the Diamondbacks, they sure do know how to put a damper on a party. The Cubs fell to Arizona 7-5 in extra innings spoiling the Wrigley 100The celebrations.

Jeff Samardzija and Darwin Barney both had great games for the Cubs. The Shark pitched into the eighth inning while Barney posted a run an RBI. The loss spoiled Samardzija’s chances of getting his first win of the season.

“I’m going out and doing my job,” Jeff Samardzija said. “As a starting pitcher, you know when you’re pitching every fifth day and you come out — you have to have a short memory as a pitcher. You start carrying over start to start, that’s when it starts to snowball on you. You keep doing your work and competing for the team and hope for the best.”

Not only was it a throwback game, the Cubs wearing their Chicago Feds jerseys and Arizona sporting the Kansas City Feds shirts, but in a way having Samardzija pitch into the eighth was kind of like an old school game when pitchers went deep a lot more than they do now.

Even though the Cubs lost and don’t misunderstand me, I was just as heartbroken as James Russell was when the D’Backs tied it up, but the loss was a good loss to take even though it is against Arizona. The Cubs got some runs on the board and of course, Samardzija will get his win soon. Darwin Barney improved and Mike Olt pretty much secured third base everyday.

It’s funny, but I was more excited seeing Ryan Dempster back in a Cubs uniform than seeing Banks, Williams and Jenkins. Sure, it was awesome seeing those guys, but I wasn’t around to watch those guys play. Plus, it was exciting to see Andre Dawson. Then again, the Hawk rules!

“The fans are right on top of you here, and you can hear conversations if you’re close enough to the wall,” Dawson said. “You talk back. A lot of things people don’t realize is that you get in conversations with them. You’d be amazed at some of the things you can talk about.”

Wrigley Field is one of those special places that people don’t forget. It’s an icon in architecture and one of the last places in professional sports that connects people in events to times long ago.

Is this heaven? No, it’s Wrigley Field.

Believe It!

—Mark

Chicago Cubs starring Mike Olt charm the Snakes

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The Cubs just accomplished this season for the first time; a series win. Sure, it was over the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks with a humiliating defeat 9-2, but a win is a win just the same.

So, what about Mike Olt? He crushed the ball with a three run homer and making his case for a regular starter.

“We’ve talked about him gradually getting into that role,” Rick Renteria said of the third baseman. “Do I plan on playing him tomorrow? Yes. Everything is very calculated. I’m going to throw him out there and let him run with it a little bit. We’re still measuring everything, but he’ll be in there tomorrow.”

The Cubs are easing Olt into that everyday player. He’s not there quite yet, but so far this season, he’s proving that he can be the difference the Cubs need.

“I definitely did a lot of work to get myself ready and I feel I’m ready for the task and will build off the last couple games and go from there,” Olt said.

There’s another player in the Cubs lineup that is an unsung hero this year and that is Luis Valbuena. I don’t talk about him much but he’s providing a steady leadership that the Cubs sure can use. He went 2-4 yesterday in the leadoff spot. He’s getting the job done amidst the Anthony Rizzos and the steadily improving Starlin Castro, who by the way, made an awesome grab and throw to first base.

This is an important win for the Cubs because if they can sweep the Diamondbacks tomorrow, it can build the confidence when the Cubs face Milwaukee Friday. It won’t get any easier folks.

Today, the Cubs will be celebrating in style when Jeff Samardzija gets the ball and the Cubs will wear the Chicago Feds jerseys in commemoration of Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday.

–Mark

Cubs Rattle Arizona

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Chicago Cubs

Look out Miguel Cabrera, you have some competition from Travis Wood for MVP. Yesterday, the Cubs annihilated the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-1 in front of a rain soaked crowd at Wrigley Field.

Yes, it’s that Travis Wood who did it on the mound and at the plate. He struck out nine and hit a three run homer. Travis Wood?

Oh yeah! Don’t forget that RBI double.

“It feels good that they respect you up there and you’re doing your job,” Travis Wood said. “Anything I can do to help the team and help myself out there. I’m not just out there in the nine hole to fill a spot. You have to try to be as best you can.”

I buy into that philosophy as well. Who says that a pitcher is just there to bunt and move a runner? There’s nothing in the rule book about that, is there? In fact, the Cubs need as much help as they can, so why not?

“He’s a guy who’s kind of a steady Eddie, who goes out there and does his thing and has been getting better every year,” Rick Renteria said. “It was a nice outing for him today.”

The Cubs are now in a position to win their first series of the year which would do wonders considering they’re the only team in the majors to not win one this season.

Hey, did you see a familiar face in the broadcast booth? Mr. Bob Brenly was back in the booth doing the seventh inning stretch. Does, “Awkward” come to mind?

I wanted him to yell out,” Let’s get some runs Cubbies!”

Somehow, they didn’t need him to tell them that.

Believe it.

–Mark

Cubs Hit Wall Against Reds

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After cruising to an 8-4 victory against the Reds on Saturday, it was like the Cubs said,”All right, it’s your turn today.” as they stumbled 8-2.

No matter how anyone sticks a fresh coat of paint on it, the fact is the Cubs continued to struggle at getting runners in scoring position. They’ve got the talent, but winning is going to be hard to come by if they’re not scoring runs.

“That’s what wins ballgames, right there, is two-out hitting and doing the little things right and getting guys over,” Mike Olt said. “Once we can start doing that — and we’ve had games when we’ve done that and those are games we’ve won. We have to continue to grind and we’ll figure it out.”

It’s a nice way of saying,” We didn’t get the job done and boy, we sure could use a guy like Javier Baez”

All right, that was a little presumptuous, but you can’t fault a guy for trying.

Jose Veras is on his way back to the closer role and saw limited action yesterday in the seventh. I’m not convinced he’s their guy just yet. He’s been struggling this year. The Cubs could be looking elsewhere.

“Today, as lopsided as the score might have been, we still had second and third in the ninth,” Rick Renteria said. “From the seventh through the ninth, we ended up getting on base and swinging the bat. Obviously we didn’t score enough but it wasn’t like they quit.”

No, they didn’t quit, but they didn’t win either. look, I’m not expecting them to win the whole thing this season, but if they continue to improve and show fans that guys like Bonifacio, Rizzo, Castro and Olt, all right, I still like Junior Lake, can be the guys of the future, then we’ll be happy.

Tonight, the Cubs take on the Diamondbacks and it should be an easy series win for the Northsiders.

Believe It.

—Mark

Have The Cubs Red The News?

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All right, so the Cubs had it bad yesterday. Losing 4-1 against the division rivals Cincinnati Reds is a hard one to take.

The good news is Jeff Samardzija tied a major league record and for the Cubs, it wasn’t a bad record. The Shark had two putouts in an inning and Anthony Rizzo tied for most assists in an inning by a first baseman.

So you see, not all was bad with the loss. Now, going into the game the Cubs hadn’t scored in 24 innings. I don’t know about you guys, but a team doesn’t win championships like that. Plus, when your ace pitcher hasn’t won since August 24, that’s ten starts for all you folks keeping score at home; there’s a problem. The problem doesn’t lie with Jeff because he’s been playing pretty good ball.

“I concern myself more with the way we approach the game,” Rick Renteria said. “If our approach is good and we’re really focused on what we’re supposed to be doing both at the plate and in the field, I’m good with it. Today, I think we were a little sloppy in general, and Jeff really kept us in the ballgame throughout.”

No, I’m not talking about Jeff Samardzija. I’m talking about that little guy stuck between second and third base. Yeah Starlin, you’re having a bounce back season and I’m happy for you, but try not wearing that blue balaclava under your ball cap and you might just not drop some balls. I know it’s cold in Chicago, but I’m Canadian and it gets just as cold. Put your toque on in the dugout and then take it off when you get out on the field. Don’t forget your long underwear. I’m just trying to help.

“We’re not playing a fifth-place team,” Jeff Samardzija said of the Reds. “They’re a complete team. They can hit, they can play defense, they can pitch. … When you play the Reds, Cardinals and Pirates and the Brewers now, you’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game and play clean defense and put some runs on the board and pitch well if you want to win games.

That’s what the Cubs are having trouble with right now is putting some runs on the board. If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll know who can help with that.

Back to you, Theo.

Believe it.

—Mark