Bryzzo Souvenir Company Adds Another Gem To Collection

Albert Almora

The Chicago Cubs certainly have a flair for the dramatic. In extra innings, the Cubs defeated the Cincinnati Reds 6-5 after an Anthony Rizzo 3 run long ball to tie it in the ninth. Their, “We do not quit” motif is some serious stuff this season being their third straight victory in a come from behind way. If it was Anthony Rizzo in the ninth, then it was Kris Bryant with the sacrifice in extra innings.

“You never think home run,” Rizzo said. “These guys do pitch me up-and-in a lot. Off the bat, I thought, yeah, but the wind was kind of strong. I thought it might be a long single if it hit the top of the wall.”

Have the Cubs turned a corner after a not so awesome start to April? I hope it’s true, but how much longer can they sustain their, “Comeback Kids” moniker?

“That’s what we always say, the comeback kids,” Rizzo said. “In the ninth, we’re saying here comes the comeback. It’s a good feeling to know none of these guys quit. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. We know we can score at any given time.”

I have to admit, I do like the entertainment of watching them comeback in late innings, although nerve racking in many ways, it gives it that post season vibe, I just get the feeling that they won’t be able to sustain the momentum for long. Awe shucks, perhaps it’s just my inner pessimistic Cubs fan rearing its ugly head.

The are many things I’m certain of but when it comes to the Chicago Cubs, these are the best days to be a fan. They’re exciting, thrilling and of course the World Series team of 2016 have a seat reserved in Cooperstown. Now, the team could be better than last season only because of the close games and the “Bryzzo” factor. These Cubs have personality just not one or two superstars but an entire team that contributes each game.

Speaking of the Bryzzo factor, catch David Ross’s last adventures as an intern with the Bryzzo Souvenir Company

In many ways though, the Cubs got lucky in those come from behind victories. Their pitching hasn’t been solid, Lester gave up 5 earned runs. It’s not hard to figure out that if the pitching isn’t there, then no matter how many hits the team gets (unless of course, they score runs) the teams not going to win. The Cubs have to get their rotation going.

“Would like it to go the other way, being up early, but a win is a win,” Cubs starter Jon Lester said. “When you come back, it always makes it a little bit better.”

You can tell through Joe Maddon’s thoughts on the “Comeback Kids” that he too would like to see a more viable and solid play of his squad.

“I’m OK with that identity, but I’d rather do it in more conventional means,” he said with a smile. “It’s what we talk about. We just don’t quit.”

Believe it

 

 

 

Cubs Let The Good Times Roll Over Brewers

Chicago Cubs

National Beer Day was on Friday so it was fitting that the Brewers won but last night was another story. The Chicago Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers 11-6 but it was the slump breaking play of reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant that cemented the victory, contributing with 3 RBI’s in the win.

“I don’t feel anywhere near comfortable up there, but it’s nice to get some hits out of the way,” Bryant said.

It’s no secret that spring training is much different than the regular season. Pitchers find their accuracy and batters are studied more in depth and let’s face it, Kris Bryant is probably the most studied hitter in the game right now. If he gets into a slump, it’s not entirely his fault.

“Just get more determined,” Bryant said of his approach when things don’t go right. “I realize this is part of being a big leaguer is to deal with the 0-for-12 and the 0-for-13 and the bad stretches and know it will turn around because it always does. It’s part of the learning process. I’m planting the seeds to keep learning and taking notes in the back of my head. For me, it’s be more determined up there.”

Albert Almora Jr is a player whose presence is going to grow more as the season wears on. He had three hits last night and let’s not forget the defensive plays after making a nice grab in the fifth inning.

“The way Almora has been playing center — that catch he made for me today was huge — and the day he had at the plate,” Kyle Hendricks said.

Hendricks, in his regular season debut, racked up six strikeouts and matched his career tying two hits in a game and get the win and yet, he remains humble.

“It wasn’t the start I was looking for, but luckily we came out swinging today. Finding the strike zone wasn’t the problem. I was throwing across my body, and things were kind of off.” Hendricks said. “Once the game started going, I started to find my groove a little bit, by the fifth inning, it was pretty good. The sixth was really good. I just needed to get into a groove.”

So, it’s the Home Opener Eve. Tomorrow the Cubs can celebrate their first World Series Championship with the Wrigley faithful. The banners will be raised and for all those fans that have stood by their side for all the years, the young and the old will rejoice. It’s pretty exciting stuff. Guys like Al Yellon from Bleed Cubbie Blue who pours his heart out each and everyday with his devotion to North Side’s noble heroes, tomorrow will be a special day. As much as it is a great day for the players, it’s also a great day for the Wrigley staff. Those hard working folks who put the tarps on the field, serve your hot dogs and bring the beer to your seat. If you’re at the game tomorrow, don’t forget to thank the Wrigley staff. It’s the players that win the games but it’s that staff that keep it friendly.

Believe it.

 

 

Cubs’ Find a Way To Win

One thing’s for certain when these two teams butt heads during the regular season and that is it usually develops like it’s the playoffs. The dramatics are abundant. Don’t believe me? What about Albert Almora‘s stunning grab to the away what was likely to be a home run in the seventh inning.

“The moment of the night was when I came in and Jake gave me a big hug. That was awesome,” Almora said. “The hug was fine.”

The Cubs went on to a 2-1 victory.

It’s obvious too that every team is still excited to be back playing baseball and if you look closely, you’ll see rust dust in the infield with sprinkles in the dugouts and outfield.

Except for Jake Arrieta.

The man must either need something on his mantle piece or he’s been doing more pilates and yoga because he looked like his award season self of a couple years ago by striking out 5 of 6 batters he faced.

“Jake really looked good from the side,” Maddon said. “The ball was moving a lot, it was very reminiscent of a couple years ago. His strike throwing and the way the hitters reacted to the pitch, I thought, was really nice to watch from the dugout.”

If this were a couple of years ago, fans would just be getting the parade started if the Cubs played like this but in light of the events that transpired last November, the Cubs looked good. A little shaky at times but they’re slowly looking like that well oiled machine from last fall.

Speaking of championships, the Cubs will have the ceremony on April 12 when they’ll receive their rings. David Ross will throw out the first pitch and the banner will be raised. It gives me the warm and fuzzies thinking about it.

Today, the Cubs get John Lackey up on the mound to face his old team. I think Lackey will be a liability for the rotation this season. Sure, he’s fiery and stubborn but his numbers are declining and he just doesn’t garner that stability like he used to. He makes me nervous. He shouldn’t be the third in the rotation, which I’m expecting Joe to juggle him around throughout the season. So what are his plans for 2017?

“You don’t have to top 2016. We just have to be better than everyone else in 2017. [Kyle] Schwarber is back. We got rid of Rossy [David Ross]. He stinks. He can’t hit. We should be better. I was just inside talking to Ross and he said that. … Willson Contreras is better than he is. Let’s be honest.”

All kidding aside, the Cubs have the potential to be better this year. Certainly, they’ll be a different team. I don’t believe they’ll put up the numbers like they did last year but they’ll find ways to win.

“It was all about defense tonight,” manager Joe Maddon said postgame. “That’s why we won the game.”

That is how they’ll win the season.

Believe it.

 

Cubs Wake Sleeping Giants

Chicago Cubs

If there are things that can make a Cubs fan nervous are extra inning games during October. Last night, the Cubs duked it out with the Giants and let me tell you folks, it wasn’t supposed to happen like that. The way it was supposed to happen was the Cubs were supposed to sweep the Giants and take a break before meeting either the Nationals or the Dodgers in the NLCS.

That’s the way it was supposed to happen.

Instead, the Cubs fell to the Giants in extra innings 6-5. After the Cubs had a very shaky 8th inning where the Cubs watched as their 3-2 lead evaporated at the hands of October’s even year darlings. I could tell that things were going to unravel the moment I saw Aroldis Chapman walking to the mound. Six more outs? For a guy that can throw 105MPH, that is really a tough thing to ask of him.

Now, before I harp all over the loss, there were some amazing things that happened. Jake Arrieta was almost his old self and I swear that beard isn’t real. He puts that on before practice and looks at that stare in the mirror. It’s not real folks, but last night proved that fearing the beard is what it’s all about. He got a home run off of Madison Bumgarner that put the Cubs up 3-0. Between Travis Wood and Arrieta, Maddon should move them up to cleanup.

“I just wanted to put a nice, easy swing on it and try and find the barrel,” Arrieta said. “That’s what I was able to do. It put us in a good spot. We had a chance to win the game, but they made some plays and swung the bat really well to turn the tides in their favor.”

Also, there was Albert Almora‘s catch in the bottom of the ninth that secured the extra innings clash. It was a catch of beauty.

Kris Bryant‘s two run home run to send the game into extra innings was huge.The only outcome greater than that would have been if they won. Playoff baseball at it’s best.

“It was a fun [game] to be a part of even though we didn’t win,” Bryant said after the longest game in Cubs’ postseason history. “We gave it all we’ve got. Great at-bats, one through nine, and from our pitchers, too. It was just a great game.”

In the end, he’s right. An amazing game that can be savoured even though the Cubs lost. Although, if they were down two games and still lost, I’m sure us Cubs fans would be singing a different song.

The Cubs and the Giants clash again tonight and the champagne better be chilled.

Believe it.

Cubs Return To Winning Ways

Kyle Hendricks

There’s no place like home. Dorothy was right when she clicked her heels three times and it sent her home sweet home to Kansas. The Cubs are like Dorothy’s tale when they went off to Queens and was faced with adversity only to discover that home is where the heart is.

Yesterday, the Cubs faced division rivals Cincinnati Reds. Sure, the Reds aren’t doing so well but a friend of mine once said that playing a par three makes himself look and feel a lot better about his golf score. In many ways, the Reds are like that golf score.

The Cubs beat them 10-4 and it made them feel a lot better about the drubbing in New York.

“We had a tough stay in New York City, and the Mets played really well against us, and we came out today and got our offense going,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

Kris Bryant leads the National League with his 12th home run of the season but left the game after a collision in the fifth inning with Albert Almora. He left the game with a bruise but is likely to be back today.

“It was my fault, I take full responsibility for that,” Almora said. “I can’t hear anything, and I don’t want to see a ball drop out there. I called it at the end, but it was too late.”

Starter Kyle Hendricks picked up the win, his seventh of the season. In his unassuming old style way of playing, Hendricks picked apart the Reds offence with his command and has now won his last four starts.

“He’s a wonderful, classic example of not having to throw 90 some miles an hour to be effective,” Maddon said. “Furthermore, he’s right-handed. Most of the time, when you get a guy effective in the high 80s to low 90s, he’s normally a left-handed pitcher with a great changeup. It’s not often you see a right-hander doing what he’s doing. Give him credit. He’s been spot on with his command.”

I’m disappointed that my family won’t be able to see Kyle Hendricks pitch on Sunday when we make our trek down to Pittsburgh to see the game. I was crossing my fingers it’d happen but now it seems unlikely he’ll get the start. Here’s hoping we can bump into him before the game.

To me, Hendricks is the most dangerous in the Cubs rotation. Opponents know what to expect when they face the other guys, but Hendricks is different.

“He picks those corners and has a good mix,” shortstop Addison Russell said. “You have a certain plan against Kyle, and he mixes up the plan. He’s got great stuff.”

Believe it.

 

Anthony Rizzo Leads Cubs Past Reds

Chicago Cubs

That was a wild and wacky series against the Cincinnati Reds but the Cubs managed to provide the fireworks. With the 2016 All Star game fast approaching, the Cubs will hopefully close out the first half of the season displaying their dominance over the New York Mets and then a weekend series against the Pittsburgh Pirates (which we’ll be at Sunday’s game!)

So, the Cubs beat the Reds 9-2 with Anthony Rizzo getting a three run inside the park home run.

“Right when it hit off of him, it kicked in,” Rizzo said. “Turned on my speed and turned the jets on. Yeah, even if [third-base coach Gary] Jones is holding me up there, I was probably still just going to truck through it.”

It was also great to see Albert Almora banging his first career home run. So far, he’s hitting.286 and has helped out tremendously with the injury to Jorge Soler.

“I didn’t know it was going to go over the fence when I first hit it,” Almora said. “I just knew I hit it well. It was a pretty exciting feeling, helped the team out.”

Kyle Hendricks had a tough day but still only managed to give up a couple of runs in 6 2/3 innings. Yesterday was one of those days when you chalk it up to, “We’ll take the win.” His record is 6-6 with an ERA of 2.76 I’m hoping that he’ll be pitching in the Pirates series next week. If I had to pick my favourite player for the Cubs it’d be him. I’ve marvelled at his control and changeup. He’s the type of pitcher who’ll hit his peak in about four years.

“I thought his last two innings were his best stuff,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Combination of his command really got better, his aggressiveness in the zone got better and it looked like he normally does in the beginning part of the game. He was really good today.”

His ability to pick apart the zone is one of the best in the game. I always look forward to him pitching.

Ok, speaking of great players, the All Star voting ends tonight. Get your votes in! Let’s get David Ross into the All Star Game!

Believe it.

Marlins Make Cubs Catch of The Day

Joe Maddon

It’s official, after yesterday’s 9-6 loss to the Miami Marlins, the Chicago Cubs, who now have dropped five of their last six—Are in a slump.

That’s right, I’ve said it and that’s exactly what it is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not throwing in any towel and this Cubs fan certainly isn’t falling off of any bandwagon, but call it what it is and that’s all right.

“We did some really good things early, and John [Lackey] just did not have his best day — that’s all it came down to,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We scored plenty of runs. That’s a good offensive day for us. When we normally score that many runs, we’re going to win the game.”

This is all true. John Lackey didn’t have his best outing of the season. To be fair too, the Cubs have been suffering from a lot of injuries to their key players. So, despite those injuries, the Cubs have been doing fairly well.

“Today we did play offensively well enough to win that game,” Maddon said. “We just didn’t have our typical pitching day.”

Even with Anthony Rizzo returning to the lineup, it goes to show you just how important pitching can be.  Sure, they can swing the bats and put up the runs, but when pitching falters, that can be deadly.

Now I’m not blaming Lackey for the loss because it’s a team effort, but we do have to admit that there’s something not gelling lately with the Cubs.

The good news?

With the trade deadline coming up at the end of July and the All Star break in a couple of weeks, the Cubs aren’t about to blow things up. The young players like Albert Almora and Willson Contreras have contributed greatly to the cause, but I have a feeling that the Cubs only need to regroup and they’ll be all right.

So, I’ll leave it with the man who says few words;

“To start off with an infield hit … I have to do better than that,” John Lackey said. “Four runs should be enough to win that game.”

Believe it