Cubs Take Batting Practice Against Reds

Chicago Cubs

It took a rain delay of over two hours before the Chicago Cubs got down to business against the Cincinnati Reds. They didn’t disappoint by beating the Reds 4-1.

Dan Haren got the start in what very well could be his last Major League outing(unless of course, those wily Cubs go farther in the post season)

“I’m confident I can get the job done. That said, it’s just been a pleasure being around the guys. I’ll be there with them in the dugout regardless. When my name’s called, I’ll be ready for sure.”Haren said.

Now, there’s going to be a lot of discussion about Manager of The Year. Should Joe Maddon be a lock for the award? There’s been some really good things in baseball. In the American League, AJ Hinch of Houston Astros and John Gibbons in Toronto have done outstanding jobs. In the National League along with Maddon is Terry Collins of the New York Mets and ugh, Clint Hurdle from the Pittsburgh Pirates

So, who is it going to be? Of course I’m going to make my case for Maddon. He’s been a huge part of the on field success of the Chicago Cubs, but it’s his attitude off of the field that matters to the club. He walks around like there’s no reason to have a curse or perhaps the fear of a drought hanging over his head. No pressure. He keeps things loose and brings back the fun in baseball.

“I do vibrate on a different frequency, man,” Maddon said. “I’m not worried about that stuff. I don’t understand those kinds of concepts. So, really, for me, it’s a moot point.”

And there’s the De Facto. There’s no curse, there’s no superstition and there’s no reason to not believe the Cubs have a chance to win the World Series. It doesn’t matter who the Cubs will face in the Wild Card game. They have to face someone. What makes this team so special is that I could name all the players who’ve contributed to this memorable season but it’s been a team effort in every sense of the word.  I’m not one of those fans who say,”I’m just happy they’re in the playoffs”

No.

I want them to win the whole thing. I knew they’d be good, you faithful readers(believe me, I think it’s awesome that you still read my blog) believed the Cubs would do it.

They’re not the “2014 Kansas City Royals” underdogs. They’re the 2015 Chicago Cubs and they bite.

Believe it.

Chris Denorfia Gives Fans and Cubs Reason To Believe

Chicago Cubs

Last home game of the season?

The past few days have seen some interesting milestones in an awesome 2015 year for the Chicago Cubs. First, Jake Arrieta gains his 21 win of the season and belts a home run plus almost adds another one–in one game.

Last night, the Cubs beat the Kansas City Royals in a make up game at Wrigley Field 1-0 in the 11th inning. Who got a walk off home run?

Chris Denorfia. Great things come in the strangest places.

“This is what we play for,” Denorfia said. “I’ve had the opportunity to do that one other time in my career and it’s just the best feeling. I can’t describe it. I feel like a little kid at 35 years old, running around the bases, knowing what just happened and what’s waiting for you at home plate, it’s really something special.”

The entire year is something special, Chris.

All right, so I’ve resigned myself to the Cubs not catching the Pirates. I mean, it could happen, but the scenario is unlikely. The good news that they play the Reds and then the Brewers to close out the season. The Pirates on the other hand, continue with the Red Birds before taking on the Reds.

The Cubs have the better of the two schedules and should the Cubs tie the Pirates at the end, then the Cubs will get home field for the Wild Card game.

Wouldn’t that be awesome?

“It is pretty crazy to see the plan come together in this way,” Cubs Owner Tom Ricketts said. “It feels great. It’s always the way we looked at it. I think a lot of people would say it’s maybe a year earlier than we expected, but it’s fabulous, all good.”

Every team wants to win. Wether you stick to a plan or not, it comes down to making it or not making it.The Chicago Cubs have reintroduced themselves as household names. Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrieta and Kris Bryant are putting their names into the Cubs history books of legends.

“Every day’s a happening, man. It’s every day. If you are tired at all, the fans will definitely provide some energy for you. They’re fabulous. It’s a fabulous fan base. I would imagine as a visiting team coming in here, you would find some energy, too. I believe it’s the best in all of baseball. I mean this sincerely, I feel very fortunate to be part of this. It’s not lost on me. I walk in and I get it, I get it. I’m appreciative. It’s different, and I’d like to keep it going for many years to come.” Joe Maddon said.

We get it too, Joe

Believe it.

Cubs Clinch Post Season Berth #FlyTheW

Chicago Cubs

So I woke up this morning to some pretty exciting news. Yes, your 2015 Chicago Cubs are officially in the post season. This means that they’re qualified to compete for baseball’s most coveted prize, they have an opportunity to end curses and droughts that have plagued the team for over a century, and they can prove that Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Joe Maddon were right all along.

How they got to the post season wasn’t the most exciting way to get in, but they’ll take take.

The Cubs should have clinched by a win over the Pirates yesterday, but then that wouldn’t be the Cubs way now would it? No, the San Francisco Giants had to lose so the Cubs would get in. The poetry folks, is staggering. The 2014 World Series Champs had to lose so the Cubs could get in.

Remember when Jake Arietta got his no hitter? His last strikeout was Clayton Kershaw. Last Year’s Cy Young Award winner.

See the pattern here?

“I love playing in what is perceived to be the best division in baseball,” Joe Maddon said. “It’s about the end of the season and the last game of the season, and getting to that particular moment. Sometimes it takes a different route to get there.”

The Cubs lost a tough one to the Pirates yesterday 3-2.

Fans may say that there’s a rivalry that’s unparalleled in baseball between the Cubs and the Cardinals but this year has things shaping up to be a Pirates/Cubs hatred like no other.  Today’s 1:05 eastern time matchup should be an exciting affair. The Cubs have nothing else to prove for the rest of the season. They can phone in the next week, practice on moving the ball but you have to remember something;

The Cubs have a lot of players who haven’t seen post season action. They’re hungry and they want to win it all. They don’t know what to expect.

“I don’t think there’s much more to learn until you get to the battle,” Lester said. “We can talk about playoff atmosphere and playoff intensity and all that stuff, but until you’re actually there, it’s something you can’t really describe and explain to guys. We all know what’s in front of us, and the Pirates will probably be our opponent. I think guys have been learning all year.”

#FlyTheW

Believe it.

Kyle Hendricks Works Magic Despite Cubs Loss

Chicago Cubs

When Kyle “The Professor” Hendricks is good, he’s amazing. Even though the Cubs lost last night to the Milwaukee Brewers 4-1.

“He’s a young Major League pitcher, he’s going to keep getting better,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. “He had it all going on. He pitched really well, we just didn’t score any runs.”

It was just a case of the pitching was there but the runs weren’t. The Cubs now are three games behind Pittsburgh and have a day off before hosting the Pirates at home in a crucial series.

One thing is for certain in this somewhat fairy tale season for the mighty North Siders and that is they’re keeping it interesting. As it stands now, the Cubs still hold the second Wild Card spot.

“It’s a big series, obviously,” said Kyle Hendricks. “We want to catch those guys, and we want to get the Wild Card Game here.”

Jon Lester gets the ball in tomorrow’s matchup and with a September that’s seeing every series as being the most important series of the year, well naw, I’m not even going to go there.

Why not?

It’s going to be the biggest series of the year.

After Joe Maddon brought in a couple of zoo animals to lighten things up a bit yesterday, there’s a party vibe within the Cubs camp. I mean not winning a World Series since 1908, you have to laugh. They celebrate after every win and they’ll celebrate once they clinch even though their eye is on a much bigger prize; beating the Cardinals.

“We’re going to celebrate then, too; I promise you,” Maddon said. “You celebrate along the way because the threat is you may never get to the end, so why miss all these opportunities to celebrate achievement?”

Speaking of celebrating, did anyone see this:

A competitive eater in Chicago, Tim “Gravy” Brown decided he wanted to reverse the “curse” so what does he do? He contacts Takeru Kobayashi a six time hot dog eating champ to do, yeah, EAT A GOAT! in 10 minutes!

The event took place at Taco In a Bag and did they do it? well…

Stranger things have happened in Wrigleyville.

Believe it

Jake Arrieta Gets 20th Win. Kris Bryant Passes Billy Williams On All Time List

Chicago Cubs

There’s only one thing to add to last night’s 4-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers that would have made it go from an incredibly historic night, to one of the best written games in the history of baseball. You know what that is,don’t you?

Jake Arrieta pitches a shutout. He records his 20th win of the season and becomes the first Cubs pitcher to do that since John Lieber in 2001. That’s awesome! In fact, I’d go out on a limb to say that if Jake doesn’t win the Cy Young, then maybe there’s some truth to those curse rumours.

“It just means that I’m putting my team in position to win ballgames,” Arrieta said. “At the end of the day, that’s our goal, to try and pile on as many as we can, especially where we are at in the season. Wins now, at this time, are more important than ever. I’m just happy about getting one for the team and keeping the momentum going into tomorrow.”

The Cubs’ Magic number now is 3. They’re still two games back of Pittsburgh and six behind the Cardinals. Those teams just keep on winning.

“The thing that Jake has done, like you saw today, is just the total domination of the other team. He never even permits the other team to come back on us when we’re not scoring a lot of runs. It’s just incredible what he’s done in this second half. It’s Bob Gibson-esque, which for me was my favorite pitcher of all time. I know this, 20 years from now, when he comes back to the reunion of the 2015 team and he stands out on that line, and Arrieta was a 20-game winner, it means something.” Joe Maddon said.

All right, there was another story to last night’s game. Kris Bryant crushed his 26th home run of the season, passing Sweet Swinging Billy Williams as the Cubs all time Rookie home run leader. like Arrieta, Kris Bryant should be a lock for Rookie of The Year.

“I was joking around with Arrieta after the game and told him he always has to outdo me,” Bryant said.

We live in a day and age where athletes make incredible amounts of money. Astronomical. Call it what you will but there’s something different about baseball compared to other team sports. Baseball is an everyman’s sport. Or a game. We see ourselves up at the plate. We dream of hitting that home run with bases loaded full count in the bottom of the ninth. Drama is engrained in the game. Look at Toronto? The stadium is packed and every convenience store across the nation is chock full of Blue Jays merchandise. People are talking baseball. In Canada, hockey season is about to start but around the water coolers it’s all Blue Jays.

Canadians are cheering on the Cubs. We love cheering for the underdogs.  People used to ridicule me for liking the Cubs but I love answering questions about the team. In a game where there’s no time limit, baseball is certainly timeless.

Believe it

Cubs Keeping Up With The Cardinals And Pirates

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are having a great September. Heck, the North Siders are having a great year. last night’s victory, albeit over the struggling Milwaukee Brewers, of a score of 9-5 showed that although there’s plenty of work to do in order to get to the playoffs, the Cubs are doing things right.

“Sometimes a lot of teams get good in April,” said Cubs second baseman Starlin Castro. “But when you get good in September, it’s good. I think we’ve got a tremendous group, and everybody is on the same page.”

Jason Hammel’s got to break his first inning blues and last night, the Cubs committed three errors against the Brewers.  I’ll tell you, that if and when the Cubs face the Pirates in October, the Bucs won’t let the Cubs get away it.

Now, that being said; the Cubs are a force to be reckoned with. They have Jorge Soler swinging a hot bat and Anthony Rizzo continuing with his MVP calibre season.

“The guys like being around Maddon,” Theo Epstein said. “They feel they can be themselves. It’s fun to come to work every day, it’s fun to be around him. That environment has really accelerated the process with these guys, to not just be big leaguers but [to be] good big league players. We wouldn’t be where we are without the contributions of a lot of first- and second-year players.”

Another thing that hasn’t been talked about with the Cubs success is the confidence from such a young team. Now, wether that transcends into the post season will be hard to tell until the post season. The Cubs proved they can beat the Cardinals, they’ve shown they can go toe to toe with the Pirates and of course, the Cubs have had plenty of one run games this year and in the end the Cubs are currently sitting third place in baseball. Not just the division, not the League but baseball!

Today, Jake Arrieta seeks out his 20th win. Their magic number is four but for Cubs fans the world over, the real number is 2015

Believe it

Rookies Getting It Done For Cubs

Chicago Cubs Win

It was the Catch Heard Around The League yesterday and Cubs’ shortstop Addison Russell deserved all of the accolades bestowed upon him. It was a great catch and a thrilling way to end the ballgame and secure the 5-4 win over the Cardinals.

“If you put a clock on him, he’s not going to be the fastest guy on the team — not nearly the fastest guy on the team,” Joe Maddon said. “But when it comes to quick lateral movements, he’s among the best I’ve seen in awhile.”

And Addison isn’t the only player who is gaining a lot of attention. Kris Bryant walloped his 25th home run of the season just after Jorge Soler connected on a score crusher. With the home run, Bryant ties the Cubs rookie record set by Sweet Swinging’ Billy Williams in 1961.

“Since Bryant came out on the other side from the midseason when he had a little bit of a struggle, he’s been outstanding,” Maddon said. “How about his defense today, too? Great defense, wonderful hitting, one of the best baserunners in the National League already. Effort level can’t be any better than it is. He is the Rookie of the Year.”

Both teams played like the playoffs were here. Joe Maddon was tossed after Hector Rondon was ejected after a wild pitch. Both clubs were warned about the tension.

So now the Cubs are sitting one game back of Pittsburgh for the first Wild Card spot. The Pirates won narrowly over the Dodgers last night, keeping the gap between the Cubs open.

What is the secret behind the Cubs success? It could be the players, actually it’s definitely the players, but one thing I’ve noticed this season more than all the years I’ve watched baseball is just how important the manager is. Joe Maddon has earned every cent the Cubs are paying him. In a sports world made up of high priced salaries, it’s refreshing to see managers like Maddon come out to the park and enjoy his chosen profession. He doesn’t whine, he has the humour and he’s humble.

“Maddon has had my back the whole year, all the way back into Spring Training,” Kris Bryant said. “He’s just an awesome guy to play for. I’ve learned so much, I’ve had a blast with him, and to hear that from him and to hear that he believes in me that much, it’s just a really cool thing.”

Believe it.

Starlin Castro Hits Two Home Runs. Cubs Send Cardinals To The Endangered Species List

Chicago Cubs

If someone were to ask me five years ago, after Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro’s incredible debut where he crushed a home run on his first at bat, where would the Cubs be five years later; I would never believe they’d be in this position so late in September.

Two weeks to go in the season. Starlin Castro hits two home runs against their rivals. He collects six RBI’s. Cubs beat Cardinals  8-3 and pull within a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first Wild Card spot. Six games out of first place overall. You know what I would say?

“Yeah, you’re- you know, crazy”

And yet, the Cubs are sitting in that position.

Oh yeah, Starlin got a standing ovation.

“That’s the biggest thing today,” Castro said. “I have like six years here, and that never happened. That’s my first time and I enjoyed it so much.”

It’s playoff time around the corner. Go ask Matt Belisle and Anthony Rizzo after Belisle “knocked “Rizzo in an apparant retaliation for Dan Haren’s wild throw to Matt Holiday.

It happens. Especially when these two heated rivals get together at this time of the year. There’s an old saying in hockey,”Just let them play” when it comes to playoff time. The Refs turn their back and sometimes the results are a barnstormer.

“Right now, that really showed me a lot today in a negative way,” Joe Maddon said. “I don’t know who put out the hit. I don’t know if Tony Soprano was in the dugout, but I didn’t see him in there. But we’re not going to put up with that.”

Let’s not get excited, Joe. Carry on.

Today’s going to be a big game. Hell, every game for the next two weeks is going to be huge. Cubs fans have just been content  with the way the season has been going, but suddenly the Cubs either has been watching the film Major League because they’re not just content to reach 80 wins. They just don’t want to make the playoffs. No, these Cubs want to win the whole thing.

Believe it.

Cubs Come Within Two of Pirates

Anthony Rizzo

The Cubs are back home today to face the Cardinals. Just like their last series against the Pirates, this series has all of the makings to be a classic showdown between division rivals.

Yesterday, the Cubs demolished the pirates with a score of 9-6. Anthony Rizzo notched his 30th home run of the season getting into Billy Williams territory of back to back 30 home run seasons.

With the victory, the Cubs are within two wins of hosting a Wild Card game.

“We come ready to play,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Mission accomplished in the sense that our guys went out and played the same game all year.”

Kyle Hendricks continued his rough patch, getting yanked after the fourth inning. I

“I got beat on a couple pitches,” Hendricks said. “Looking at it, I was throwing across my body. Something has to click here. The offense, that was fun to watch.”

Say What? How did this happen? How did the Cubs go from the bottom of the MLB to near the top in just a year?

Today is a new day and a new series. However, this isn’t just a series, this is the Cardinals vs the Cubs. A lot is at stake in today’s afternoon slugfest. With a series victory, the Cubs can pull in front of the Pirates and secure a home field spot in the Wild Card race. Now, before that happens, the Pirates would have to lose their series against the Dodgers.

Do you think that can happen?

This would be an Ernie Bank’s dream: To play the Cardinals at Wrigley Field in September as they battle for Division champions.  That’s what it’s all about today. An afternoon game at Wrigley Field. Can it get any better than that?

Of course, I’m not a fortune teller but you have to admit that it seems that pieces are falling into place since Joe Maddon and the gang have rolled into town. I know Ernie is smiling from that Ball Park in the sky.

“Let’s Play Two”

“It’ll be nice to be home,” Maddon said. “I get to get some bike rides if the weather holds up. That will be important to me. I’m really eager to see and feel our fans at home. I think it’ll be a lot of fun.”

Believe it.

Arietta Still Searching For 20th But Cubs Win In Extras

Chicago Tribune

Sometimes it comes down to the “Needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few” which was the case in the Cubs’ come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jake Arrieta needed his 20th win of the season but the Cubs quest for division crown was far more crucial. In the end took extra innings to reach that goal.

“I made an inexcusable mental mistake in the sixth inning that could’ve cost us the game,” said Arrieta, who scattered six hits over eight innings and struck out five. “That’s my one takeaway. That’ll bother me for a while.”

You know what? That’s what potential Cy Young winners do. They take ownership of the situation and carry on. Another player that’s having a great second half is Starlin Castro. That “Almost Traded’ player that everyone loves to hate delivered an amazing grab in the ninth flipped it to Javier Baez so he could touch second and torpedo the ball to first for the double play. Aramis Ramirez-out.

“That was a great play, and I told Castro so later,” said Aramis Ramirez, the former Cubs third baseman. “Probably a game-saver, because Marte would’ve gone to third on that, if it gets through.”

The Cubs play a matinee game today. 12:35 is the start and Kyle Hendricks gets the ball. Today, there is no jinx or superstitions. The Cubs need a win today. Pure and simple. They’re three games in back of the Pirates and face their arch rivals this weekend at Wrigley Field. It’s been awhile since September ball has meant so much.  The Magic Number is 10.  There were very few fans that dreamed at the start of the season that the team would be in contention for the post season, but here they are.

“One of the things I’ve always used as a benchmark is an extra-inning win on the road. That’s not easy to do. Under these circumstances, in this place, at this time of year, I’m really proud of our effort.” says Joe Maddon.

So are we Joe, so are we.

Believe it.