There’s No Hope For The Chicago Cubs

It might be a game about millionaires playing a child’s game, but there’s more to it than that. There’s more to it by watching the Chicago Cubs this year.

Baseball is like no other sport when it comes to history. I got to thinking about this while writing yesterday’s post. It transcends wars, famine and hate. It’s been there through the good times and the bad times of America and the world. It’s brought us heroes like Ted Williams and villains like Alex Rodriguez and just like every story includes conflict, it’s the underdog we love.

No underdog story is greater than the Chicago Cubs. They used to be a powerhouse, they used to be a dynasty and in the days of 1907, 1908, there was a poem written about the exploits at the time of baseball’s most fearsome team.

These are the saddest of possible words: “Tinker to Evers to Chance.” Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds, Tinker and Evers and Chance. Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble, Making a Giant hit into a double— Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble: “Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

a poem written by Franklin P. Adams of the New York Evening Mail about the fearsome play of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance.

Baseball is steeped in legend, lore and myths. From “Say it ain’t so, Joe” to Babe Ruth’s called shot.

It’s a magical game that keeps fans, critics and enthusiasts coming back for more. The Cubs have an opportunity to break the Curse of The Billy Goat this season. They can rewrite history with a Russell to Zobrist to Rizzo or Kyle Schwarber can call his shot into the stratosphere. Whichever way it’s going to go, 2016 is the year of the Cub.

Everywhere I go, people give me the thumbs up about the Cubs chances. Of course, this can all end in heartbreak as fans have seen before. This season is different. Theo Epstein, Joe Maddon and Jed Hoyer have built a squad rich in sabre metrics as well as carefully planned trades and drafts. This season Cubs fans don’t hope for a World Series championship.

“We picked up where we left off. What they mean is the tightness of the group and the feeling among the group and the fact that we can win, and we are winners.” Maddon said.

The Cubs start tomorrow as winners. If last season’s Championship Series showed us was that they’ve been there before, the young Cubs have a taste of it and they won’t let that slip through their claws again. Theo Epstein is the architect behind those Boston Red Sox teams.

No, the Cubs have no hope anymore. For once in a 108 years they–

Believe it.

 

 

Cubs Growing Pains Continue and Alex Rodriguez Proves He’s Irrelevant

Chicago Cubs Jake Arrieta

The great thing about baseball is that the season is long. 162 games is a lot of baseball to be played and enough time for the Cubs to make up ground. Yesterday, the Blue Bears fell to the Redbirds 5-1 and even though the Cubs couldn’t get their offence going, it really had a lot to do with the well oiled machine of the Cardinals.

“They’re playing extremely well,” Jake Arrieta said of the Cardinals. “We caught them when they’re hot. We play them enough, we’ll be able to return the favor. We just need to be ready next time.”

Don’t forget that it’s still early in the season and now is the time for the Cubs to make those necessary adjustments. It’s a learning process. Kris Bryant hasn’t hit his first home run yet, but that doesn’t mean he is downing other things to help the team.

“He’s faster than you think and he makes good decisions and he doesn’t assume anything,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He just plays the game. He went from first to home [Wednesday] because he thought he could. He’s gone first to third several times. … He really runs the bases like you’d want everybody to run the bases.”

For my money, give me solid base running anyway over home runs. Not that home runs aren’t a spectacular sight to behold, but the excitement and thrill of running those bases is what’s going to win ball games.

So, what should have been a key series kind of faltered and didn’t end up the way the team wanted. They’re 6 1/2 games back of the Cardinals but I think the growing pains of the team will work themselves out soon.

“I like what I’m seeing out of our guys a lot, not a little bit,” Maddon said. “The pitching will come together. The young hitters will start figuring this stuff out. I could not be happier with the group.”

Now, I wanted to touch briefly on the Alex Rodriguez situation of passing Willie Mays. Without pulling any punches, I think it’s wrong for A-Rod to be included in these stats. Sure, 661 Home Runs is a great feat, but not for a cheater. His records should be erased from the books and guys like him and that guy on the Brewers should apologize not to me, not to their family and friends but to the kids. The children who idolize these athletes. These guys are setting the wrong examples by not acknowledging their mistakes. Own up to them. Return the MVP’s, be thankful you still have a career, and wipe clean any records you break, because A-Rod, you don’t deserve it. Think of it this way, if an employee cheated at their job and were caught, they’d be fired on the spot and their employment record tarnished. Why are these players allowed to continue working?

“It’s been a long time since I’ve had a curtain call,” Rodriguez said. “I didn’t know what to expect from the fans. I can tell you this, I wish I could go out — and I can’t — and thank every fan personally for not only the way they treated me tonight, but the way they’ve treated me all season. It’s certainly fueling the way I’m playing.”

Read that quote again and tell me what’s wrong with baseball. Shut up Alex.

Believe it

Cubs Preaching Patience

mike olt

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.

—Mark

Should We Be Excited By Alex Rodriguez’s Return?

Yesterday, a friend of mine and I took a drive to Cooperstown. It was beautiful and fitting on the day of Alex Rodriguez’s comeback game. We were listening to satellite radio on the way down and listening to all the coverage of A-Rod’s return. Many people have opposing arguments for and against this great player. Now I’m being careful when I use great in association with Rodriguez. We live in a nation where everyone is innocent until proven guilty. I believe in that and I believe that baseball is the fantastic game it is because of players like Stan Musial, Ryne Sandberg, Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax and Phil Rizzuto. Of course there are so many players to name. Go to the Hall of Fame and you will see them there enshrined on plaques and their memories behind glass.

There’s a certain feeling seeing mementos from eras that most of us never had a chance to be there. Cy Young-wow, the greatest pitcher to ever play the game. I’d like to believe he’d be amazed at the accomplishments of Roger Clemens and maybe he might be a little sad as well.

Babe Ruth would be in awe if he were alive to see A-Rod try to beat these records. Then again, the Sultan of Swat would challenge A-Rod to a home run derby.

For now, Alex Rodriguez can still play the game. It’s not Joe Girardi’s job to comment on the allegations and suspensions but PED’s don’t belong in baseball. If Alex Rodriguez took PED’s then A-Rod doesn’t belong in the game.

We sat at Doubleday Field and watched a game of pick up and it was relaxing. The sun was shining and we didn’t have anywhere to go but there. We cheered for every hit that was cracked on both teams. It was incredible and one of the memories I took from that sacred place is baseball is a past time. Yesterday, we past the time beautifully.

–Mark