If The Cubs Were A Screenplay, They’d Be Oscar Winners

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A baseball rotation has a lot in common with a screenplay. In a screenplay, there are major components that go into having a well executed script. For example, a Main Character, Supporting Character, Set-ups and Pay offs. Plot points, A Stories and B Stories, and Midpoints.

This is a season that will be filled with movie links a la Back To The Future 2 references and predictions.

Without further adieu, here’s our Main Character:

  • Jon Lester-The signing of Lester provided the much needed depth and a bona fide Main Character, leading guy and star power. At a signing of a whopping six year/ $155 million, there’s no question where he’s going to be in the rotation. The World Series experience helps too.
  • Jake Arrieta– Arrieta was brilliant for the Cubs last season and deserves to be second in the rotation. Does he deserve to share equal billing on the poster? You bet. Going 10-5 with a 2.53 ERA and 1 complete game. A superstar in the making.
  • Jason Hammel- Bringing back Hammel is the equivalent of a sequel. With an ERA of 2.98 last year,he’s got the tools to bring support to Lester.
  • Kyle Hendricks- Last season was the B Story. In a script it would be the love story or buddy story. We go to see the main character, but it’s this guy who is the scene stealer. Last year, “The Kyle Hendricks Experience” was the sleeper hit of the season. Going 7-2 and an ERA of 2.46 and 80 innings pitched, I can’t wait to see his full season.
  • Travis Wood– 2015 will be Travis Wood’s comeback film. He struggled last season, but a true workhorse with 173 innings clocked, he’s like the Morgan Freeman of baseball. Sure, he’s had some failures but this season could be Travis’ Shawshank Redemption.

Of course Edwin Jackson’s box office disasters have put question marks into where he’ll fit into the plans of the Cubs this year. Will he be traded? Will he end up in the bullpen? He could be the pay off to this exciting Cubs screenplay. The Cubs aren’t providing spoilers.

The real question on everybody’s minds is if the Cubs stay healthy in the mid season, could they end as potential candidates come award season?

The depth of the Cubs is staggering. Like a well crafted screenplay, they have their set up men that will surely provide pay offs in October, which incidentally occurs at the same time as Oscar season.

Just like the Chicago Cubs have their mojo and and so called curses, Chinatown is considered to be one of the finest examples of a well crafted screenplay in the history of motion pictures. If this is the case, the sequel to Chinatown was The Two Jakes.

The Cubs have their Three J’s

Believe it

Cubs on Paper look like Champions

If the Cubs win it all, Joe's buying the first round Chicago!

If the Cubs win it all, Joe’s buying the first round Chicago!

It’s always a dangerous thing making early predictions, but it’s also pretty darn cool to make them anyways.

One prediction that’s going to loom large over the Chicago Cubs this season is of course, Ernie Bank’s passing. The poignant part is that as the Cubs prepare to take a run at a post season birth and perhaps a World Series, “Mr. Cub” will be a part of it all. The Cubs will more than likely be wearing commemorative patches on their jerseys in tribute to this great man.

Here is an early version of the Cubs batting order which I’m predicting will be the Opening Day order:

  • Dexter Fowler– Simply because of his OBP being .375 You figure it out.
  • Javier Baez– Give him a break, he’s only 23 and last year he swung at more than he hit. This year will be different.
  • Starlin Castro- Starlin matured last year into a hitting machine. I’m placing him ahead of our captain Anthony, because he got more doubles(33) Stay focused, and Starlin is a winner.
  • Anthony Rizzo- He’s going to take 32 HR and turn them into 45. Wanna know why?
  • Jorge Soler- Because Soler is going to hit 32 HR right behind our captain.
  • Miguel Montero- New catcher on the block hit 72 RBI and a SLG of .370 playing for the Arizona GrassSnakes. Go ahead and say Boo Ya!
  • Mike Olt- I still believe in the guy. He’s underrated. Don’t forget he managed 33 RBI’s in 89 games. Not too shabby.
  • Arismendy Alcantara- Joe Maddon likes him, I like him and Arismendy will turn into that sabermetric machine that Epstein and Maddon love. You can quote me that.
  • Chris Coghlan- He ‘ll be adjusting into Alcantara’s slot

If you’re wondering why I didn’t start Kris Bryant on Opening Day, well here’s my reasoning. If the Cubs can’t win April then they’re not going to be there in October. It just won’t happen. Mike Olt is their third baseman for now. Bryant will see action sometime in May, but why spook the kid and turn him into a Javier Baez? No, Mike has to start at third on Opening Day. There’s no doubt about that.

Are expectations too high for the Cubs this season or are predictions justified. Spring couldn’t get here quick enough to see the likes of Jon Lester, Joe Maddon and Anthony Rizzo.

On paper, the Cubs are going to have one of the most dynamic teams this season. In the outfield there’s Alcantara, Fowler and Soler. Mike Olt, Starlin Castro Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo in the infield. A fantastic starting lineup. If there’s going to be any weakness in the Cubs organization, it’s their back up guys like Junior Lake and Welington Castillo. Where do they fit in this potent lineup. It’s a great problem the Cubs are going to have.

It’ll be bittersweet should the Cubs make the post season, but something tells me that the 2015 season is going to be one magical year.

Tomorrow, I break down the rotation.

Believe it.

“Let’s Play Two” Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks Has Passed Away at 83

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Ernie Banks retired before I was born. I didn’t grow up watching him play but his enthusiasm resonated throughout each game the Cubs played.

I didn’t need to watch him play. He was there in the infield. He was there in the dugout. He was there through it all. That’s what he meant to the  North Side team. He was the face of the franchise.

He played his entire 19 seasons for the Cubs never winning a World Series and never seeing the post season but if they were to give out an honorary one, then he would have received many rings.

The first time my wife and I visited Cooperstown, I wanted to see Ernie’s plaque. To sit and reflect on that marble bench in the hall and think about the days that he played. You know something? I almost heard him.

It didn’t matter if he never won a World Series, in 2013 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contribution to world peace and culture and that my friends is the most important award anyone can ever achieve. To be remembered and honoured as a humanitarian, gentleman and a true representation of what humanity has to offer. That was Ernie Banks.

There were no scandals, there was only enthusiasm and genuine love for the game of baseball.

Never in the history of the game has any athlete represented their team with such dignity and grace as “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks.

He reminded players, fans and folks like myself who only knew the legend, that it was just a game. Most importantly, and this goes beyond the diamond and baseball, he reminded us all  how to be human.

Ernie taught us how to carry ourselves in the workplace. How to care passionately about our friends, our families and even through struggling times, sometimes,”Let’s play two!”

So, the best tribute that the Cubs can pay to their hero Ernie Banks this year, would be to go out and win it all.

Ernie Banks presence will be felt in the streets and the stands as Eddie Vedder sang,”Someday we’ll go all the way” We can bet that Ernie will be smiling that infectious grin.

Believe it!

Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

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Baseball has officially arrived today. Well not really, but I just picked up this year’s Sporting News Baseball Yearbook. With 120 pages of preview goodness complete with a Jose Bautista cover this year’s annual is different.

Sporting News predicts your favourite team and mine to win over the Detroit Tigers.

I know, I know this is old news but somehow it’s different when it’s in writing. Also, most stats aren’t up to date due to ever changing player profiles.

This is true, but with just under a month until spring training gets under way, the excitement of scanning through every team and getting the different scenarios is mind blowing!

Baseball is just that type of game where nothing can be predicted accurately. We can only assume the numbers don’t lie.

So, there’s a great case for the Cubs going all the way and the addition of Dexter Fowler provides the 100+ year drought a chance of being nullified.

Why?

Look who’s hitting behind him? If the Cubs can win April, which I expect them to win because opposing teams are still finding their niche for the season and haven’t been able to figure out all of the Cubs young talent. They should be able to lay a solid foundation for the rest of season.

Now, whether the Sporting News used “Holy Cow! Cubs Win” as a means to sell slagging numbers of print copies, I don’t know. What I do know is that reading about baseball stats, projections and previews helps chase away those winter blues.

I’m sort of an oddity up here in the Great White North. Everybody is expected to love the Blue Jays, which I do. Juggling between Cubs games and Jays games throughout the summer is a bonus.

People all know my support of the Cubs. Friends, families and people who I bump into on the street ask me about the Cubs.

How are they going to do? What’s up with Jackson? They haven’t won it in how long? Trust me Cubs fans, Canada has adopted the Chicago Cubs as their NL team.

Every sports fan around the world has a soft spot for them.

As far as the Jays are concerned; they could surprise. The absence of Melky is going to hurt but adding Donaldson and Martin is going to give Joey Bats the much needed support. I’m predicting a Second Place AL East finish.

Believe it

Cubs’ Valbuena Off To Houston For Dexter Fowler

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It was inevitable that Luis Valbuena would be traded. Hey, not because he wasn’t pulling his weight around the clubhouse, but c’mon, he played third base and we all know who’s been waiting in the wings just chomping at the bit to get a piece of the third bag on the diamond.

Kris Bryant.

During the Cubs Convention, a young fan asked Joe Maddon who he would pick at third base, Mike Olt, Luis Valbuena or Kris Bryant. We all know who the kid wants, but Joe still asked him anyway, “Who would you play at third?”

Kris Bryant

Of course the kid picked Kris Bryant. Of course Joe Maddon wouldn’t commit to an answer!

The reality is that the Cubs have been in such a great position lately stockpiling players to make room for these young kids coming up. Having too many guys at third was a great problem to have.

A fantastic problem.

Yesterday, the Cubs sent Luis Valbuena and David Straily to the Houston Astros for Dexter Fowler. On paper it doesn’t have any ink drying blockbuster deal but look closer and it’s a really good deal.

Luis Valbuena is a great guy and the kind of player teams need. He was consistent last year and at the odd time showed some pop. I’m a little sad seeing him go, but with too many elephants standing at third, there wasn’t a choice.

In comes Dexter Fowler. A switch hitting possible leadoff hitter(a position the Cubs are still pretty soft at) and hitting an awesome .366 On Base Percentage, he’ll anchor the outfield between Jorge Soler and Arismendy Alcantara.

“It’s tough leaving my teammates and relationships I’ve built,” Fowler said, “but going to a young team like that is awesome.”

So, in my mind the team is set for Spring Training. It’s going to be a battle in just about every position. No kid is a sure thing and no veteran is a lock.

Let me put this in perspective:

You’re a batter. One corner has Kris Bryant/Mike Olt. Then Starlin Castro separates Javier Baez from third. Who’s on first? Anthony Rizzo.

Jon Lester? Yeah, he’s that monster on the hill staring you down.

Believe it,

Mark

Ryan Dempster Channels Chris Farley at Cubs Convention

Ryan Dempster has got to be one of the coolest guys in baseball. No, not because he’s a fellow Canadian. Last night at the Cubs Convention, he did a comedy shtick a la David Letterman. Some of the hi-lights included a bang up Chris Farley SNL scene as “Matt Foley” motivational speaker.

He burned Jake Arrieta with a no hitter joke as compared to Jon Lester and hit wiffle balls with Anthony Rizzo. Yes, Ryan Dempster has a future in comedy. When asked about the routine, Ryan said,

“I did it in Boston in 2001 for my dad because we go to comedy clubs together and he was there for Father’s Day. I asked the club owner, and it so happened I was on his fantasy team, so he said no problem. I did eight minutes. I was with Florida then, and the guy on stage before me said to make a local reference to win them over. They were doing the Big Dig [a massive highway construction project] then, and I was like, ‘It’s good to be in Boston. I’ve noticed the Big Dig’–everybody cheers–‘and I’ve seen the official state tree of Massachusetts, the three-foot orange cone.”

It’s good to see the light hearted approach the Cubs are taking going into the season. If anything, this year is for the fans. However, apparently some fans decided to boo Edwin Jackson, which isn’t cool. Yeah, he had a bad season last year but I’m sure that he doesn’t need to be reminded of that. C’mon guys, give him a break.

Believe it!

Mark

Cubs ‘ Anthony Rizzo Makes Bold Prediction Before Convention

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If you’re a hockey fan, you may remember 1994 when then New York Rangers captain Mark Messier, predicted the Rangers would go on to win the Stanley Cup.

Raise your hands if you remember.

The Rangers went on to beat the Vancouver Canucks, ending a fifty year drought.

Jump to 2015. Either it’s the Back To The Future 2 predictions of the Cubs winning it all over the Miami team, but there’s some kind of fever gripping Cubs Nation lately, it could be the signing of Joe Maddon or Jon Lester. perhaps it’s Miguel Montero?I don’t know, but recently Cubs’ captain and player extraordinaire Anthony Rizzo predicted the Cubs will win the 2015 NL Central division.

Of course, I don’t believe in curses. Superstitions? maybe, but curses? forget about it. The only curse that’s been placed on the Cubs these 107 years between championships is the simple fact that the team just couldn’t capitalize on their chances. You know what? If I read about Steve Bartman interfering one more time with Moises Alou, I think I might puke. Let’s get this straight once and for all; the kid did what any other fan would do in that particular situation. The Cubs squandered a 3-1 series lead. Plain and simple. It happens, get over it. It happened a couple of years ago with the Toronto Maple Leafs/Boston Bruins series where Toronto blew a 4-1 lead in one period. That sucked.

In fact, the Cubs could have won it all with a League of Coaches, but ask Ernie Banks about that one.

Sure, you can put a spin on Billy Goats, Black Cats, League of Coaches, Bartman or whatever you want to bottle that voodoo, but please oh please, do not say the Chicago Cubs are a cursed team.

By the way, it was a Miami team in 2003. Just saying.

They are a professional sports franchise that have had great teams, not so great teams, close calls and squandered leads.

Look at the mighty 2007-08 season. Both shutout in the NLDS Both division champions. Was it a curse?

No, the Cubs got stymied and that happens.

There are three days in my life that are amazing. The day I married my wife, the birth of our son and Opening Day.

If the great Anthony Rizzo, that future hall of fame first baseman who hurdles into dugouts chasing balls wants to make bold predictions then let him and listen to him. He might be right.

My son starts T Ball this season and the other day he asked me how many home runs Anthony Rizzo hit last year, so I told him.

He said,”I’m going to hit 40, Daddy”

I’m going to hit 40, Daddy. Now that’s a prediction I love.

Believe it.

Mark