Despite Cubs Loss, Rizzo Keeps The Streak Going

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs couldn’t play “Comeback Kids” again as the Cincinnati Reds defeated the North Siders 7-5 yesterday. They put on a good show and Anthony Rizzo keeps his streak alive with three home runs in his last three games.

“You just play baseball really,” the Cubs’ first baseman said. “You just hit balls where they’re not standing. You go through the process. It’s no different than not getting any hits.”

As we all know, baseball is such a streaky sport.

In a strange game which showcased the aging talents of John Lackey versus Bronson Arroyo, the elder Lackey pitched a frustrating game

“Yeah, I don’t care about the series right now; I’m pissed,” said Lackey. “I felt like I definitely pitched a lot better than the numbers are going to show. Two of the first three runs were a couple of balls that kind of fell in on me. And I really didn’t give up a whole lot of hard contact. What are you going to do?”

This was his third start that he lost. I don’t know, I think Lackey needs to move down in the order but he’s so competitive that I wouldn’t want him to get mad about that.

Even though the Cubs won the series, it’s good that they’re finally coming around but they should have controlled that game better. The Reds had an aging pitcher.

The Cubs won the series but now head to Pittsburgh to face the Pirates. The last time these two teams faced each other, the Pirates swept them.

The Pirates don’t have Starling Marte (much to my annoyance in my Keeper League) so the Cubs should be all right.

“I have nothing to complain about. You go into another city and win the series. We’ll take it.” Joe Maddon said.

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Cubs Come Roaring Back, Dominate Reds and Take First Place

Willson Contreras

I’m not bragging here, but yesterday’s 12-8 victory over the Cincinnati Reds was the kind of win I’m talking about. That dominating offensive juggernaut from the North Side came roaring to life with home run contributions from Wilson Contreras, Jason Heyward and Anthony Rizzo.

“The ball was absolutely flying,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “These balls were well-struck, don’t get me wrong, but the ball was definitely in the air and it was gone.”

What really stood out in the win was contributions from guys like Heyward and Contreras, heck, even Jake Arrieta hit the ball well. The Cubs can’t always leave it up to Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist to get the job done.

During the offseason, Heyward worked hard on his swing and so far this season, it’s working.

“His whole setup is different, how he’s starting the bat,” Joe Maddon said. “He is much more active with his hands throughout the swing process, and that’s why you are seeing harder contact. Less arms, more hands, that’s how I look at it. It’s been very effective.”

We know how good he is in the field but with the absence of Dexter Fowler, Heyward has to lead a young outfield but he also has to replace the bat of Fowler as well.

“The good signs are getting hits, being able to be aggressive in the strike zone,” Heyward said. “Solid contact, consistent. Home runs are going to happen, but it’s not going to happen if you’re not doing that stuff.”

So, let’s shift over to the pitching of Jake Arrieta. If last season was a come down period for the former Cy Young winner, then this year is his comeback season. The rotation as a whole has been a little shaky but so far, Arrieta is 3-0 and yesterday’s victory he pitched five innings striking out 8 batters. It wasn’t pretty but,

“We’ve had some hiccups, but we’ve been picked up by our offense,” said Arrieta, who gave up five runs in six innings. “As starting pitchers, we have to take advantage of our offense.”

If they’re taking advantage of their offence, then the Cubs are back in first place in the National League Central where they belong, the Cubs could be on the roll that they need. John Lackey will take to the mound today before the Cubs go to Pittsburgh in another key divisional matchup.

 

So here’s your chance to jump on the Cubs bandwagon don’t worry, there’s plenty of room for everyone. It’s hard to figure out how folks can suddenly cheer for teams. It could be birthright, you know, generations of long suffering fans. It might be that of location and hometowns.  I’m the Canuck Cubbie, I wasn’t born in Chicago but came across the Cubs while watching WGN when it was available in Canada. That was many moons ago. When WGN ceased to exist up here, I subscribed to MLB.TV. We’ve been to Wrigley Field and followed the team whenever they play near us.  We try to have Opening Day parties when we can and celebrate everything that is good about the Cubs and great about baseball. If you are new to the game, I encourage you to read up about the history and most importantly, take a trip to Wrigley Field, it’s a 12 hour drive for us but it was so worth it. Cubs fans are amazing. A Chicagoan we talked to a couple years ago was amazed that we drove so far to see them. He lived around the corner from Wrigley! “You came all the way from Canada?”

Yes, we did.

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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

 

 

 

Russell’s Walk Off a Thing of Beauty For Chicago Cubs

Addison Russell

How much more can the 2017 edition of the Chicago Cubs keep coming back in games? Yesterday they did just that, a come from behind walk off three run home run from Addison Russell to steal the win from the Milwaukee Brewers 7-4.

“I was just trying to put the ball in play, something over the middle of the plate to start me out,” Russell said of his at-bat in the ninth. “[Feliz] threw me two sliders away, and I was looking for something a little more in. He threw a fastball.”

Oh the modesty. He absolutely crushed that ball. So, that’s two come from behind wins in a row. It’s a dangerous way to start a season. All though the Cubs are proving their worth with these wins, it’s inevitable that time will run out. As the season wears on, the Cubs might be riddled with injuries and exhaustion.

“It’s one of those ugly wins but we’ll take it any day of the week,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “It is the resiliency, it is the fact that we do not quit. It’s on the ring. We don’t quit. It’s on the ring, man, and that’s a perfect example today.”

He’s right but where was Kyle Hendricks? The ERA leader last year, is noticeably absent on the mound with a 6.19 ERA this season. It could be cold weather or a slow start but he has to get his mechanics going. He walked four batters and only lasted five innings. Not that I’m too worried because he’s the type of pitcher who studies the game with all its’ nuances.

“We went in with one game plan, and we noticed they were sitting on a few of the things we were trying to do,” Hendricks said. “I didn’t realize it right away. By the time he came over to me, we could talk about it and find out where we wanted to go with the game plan. I got better contact in the later innings. I still need to find that groove and lock it in.”

So, the Cubs can talk all they want about resiliency but the main issue is in the games they lost, well, they just looked lost. The honeymoon is over, baseball season is underway. They’ll have to hear that familiar song a lot more if they want another parade.

“You definitely want to go into Cincinnati with the sense we can come back in any part of the game,” Russell said. “That’s what we did today. Just don’t give up. That’s the type of style that we play.”

The style the Cubs should be playing is Javier Baez‘s leaping air catches and reaching for the tag, Anthony Rizzo‘s Rizzo Wrap snags, Hendrick’s controlled mechanics and Kris Bryant‘s Long Ball. You see where I’m going with this?

“That was an unbelievable win today,” Hendricks said. “There’s been a lot going on. A lot of outside factors pushing against us, so to be able to focus on the game and get big wins … these teams we’re playing are coming for us. The target is on our backs.”

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Cubs Shutout Dodgers With Help From Wrigley Weather

Chicago Cubs

It goes to show you what a day can make. Just one day removed from all of the pomp and pageantry of getting their rings and the wind blowing out at Wrigley Field, the Cubs got right back to business with a dominant display of just how they deserved that sparkling jewelry. They defeated the Dodgers 4-0 with Brett Anderson recording the shutout. It was almost as if Anderson, who is the only Cubs player on the roster to not have won a World Series was trying to prove he belongs on the team.

“A lot of envy, especially now being the only guy on the active roster without a World Series ring. That’s not fun. It gives me, personally, that much more incentive to do my part and fill the holes going forward.” Anderson said.

The one problem I have with this year’s squad is Kyle Schwarber. The Cubs have a dilemma with him being in the outfield. His skills on defence are not the greatest but as we know he’s no slouch in the hitting department, there’s the problem of To Keep Him or Not To Keep Him? I believe he’s destined for a DH role somewhere soon. It could be this year year or next and it’ll be sad to see him go.

On the other hand, he’s learning the outfield. His overturned bobbled catch off the sprouting ivy was certainly brilliant and flashy but he’s nowhere in the same department of Jason Heyward nor may never be.

“If I’m going to make a mistake, it’s going to be an aggressive mistake, not a passive mistake,” Schwarber said. “The ball’s to the wall, and you’re trying to make a play, and no one can second-guess you.”

Yesterday kind of proved the curse theory at Wrigley Field. It was the wind all these years that messed up chances and opportunities. Whether it’s hitting or defence which ever way the wind blows will guide which way the game will be played.

“It’s just Wrigley for you,” Schwarber said. “There are going to be those days when you don’t know what’s going to happen with the ball, and you have to approach your at-bats the same.”

Both Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell got their first home runs of the season during that weird weather day at Wrigley. In particular Russell’s HR.

“That ball was mangled,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

It practically left some lucky fans a souvenir outside the park.

On a side note, I believe that part of the excitement and importance of the Cubs winning the World Series is they’ve finally inked their place alongside the greats like Boston, New York and the Detroit. No more are they the team that are pushovers, with that win, they’re forever taken seriously. That 2016 team is a legend in sports history that will be forever enshrined in our hearts and imagination.

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Cubs Raise Flags As Rizzo Walks Off In Style

Chicago Cubs

In true Chicago Cubs fashion, there was a rain delay on Opening Night at Wrigley Field. There couldn’t have been a more appropriate way to kick off the home opener than that. After the lengthy delay, fans got their chance to usher in the new season and congratulate their heroes.

The Cubs were introduced to a roaring crowd and then out by the scoreboard, it was legends Ryne Sandberg and Ferguson Jenkins raising the championship banners, but wait; the 2016 World Series champion Chicago Cubs, together raised their own banner. The fans were glad of the rain delay because it was hard to tell if there were drops of rain on their cheeks or tears.

“I’ll remember this day for as long as I play baseball,” Anthony Rizzo said. “That pregame ceremony, I really didn’t think — the Cubs did an amazing job. Videos, the tribute. It was amazing.”

From the Rocky theme music in the introduction of the players to the raising of the banners, it was hard for anyone not to love the Cubs last night. Heck, they even cheered on David Ross’s dance number from the dugout!

“I told the boys, I was going to punt tonight and watch the game from center field — what a view,” Rizzo said. “I’ve been up there, but with all the fans, there’s a lot of energy. You see Ryno and Fergie and Billy raise the previous championships and the pennant, and to be up there and raise ours, that banner, it’s history forever.”

World Series

But celebrations aside, there was also a ballgame to be played. The Cubs beat the LA Dodgers 3-2 by a walk off in the ninth inning with two out with team leader and flag raiser Anthony Rizzo getting the hit. They better add that walk off as an easter egg or bonus feature on the Blue Ray edition of the as yet untitled film of their World Series win. Ya, just can’t write anything better.

“It was a special night,” said Jon Lester, who pitched six solid innings. “Definitely something that’ll go down in my book as something that I’ll remember for a long, long time.”

Looking back, I think that the real reason the Cubs won the World Series is their character. They like each other and although Dexter Fowler has moved on, the mantra that Joe Maddon bestowed upon him, “You go, we go” rings true for the whole team. It hasn’t changed. They’re all in this together.

“I was fortunate to be part of the process,” Rizzo said. “I don’t know how you top tonight, but then you get the ring. I think it will be amazing.”

We’ll all remember it Anthony,

Believe it.

 

 

Chicago Cubs Defending World Series Champions

cubs-cream-2016-world-series-champions-patch-model-after-1907-champions-logo-patch

It’s hard to believe that over two months ago, the Chicago Cubs became 2016 World Series Champions. It seems so long ago and yet like it happened yesterday.

For the longest time I wanted to distance myself from the Chicago Cubs. Perhaps it was just to wallow in the warm glow of being champions or it could be the unspeakable fear of them reaching that height which has alluded them for so long, now what can a Cubs fan do?

They’ve won the big prize, they’re no longer lovable losers or curse laden wannabes.

The Chicago Cubs are champions. In 2017, they’re defending World Series Champions.

Say that again my friends, say it out loud (preferably in a room without anyone, we don’t want to jinx anything).

The real test for these Cubs is how they’re going to be lovable winners?

“There’s no more history we have to worry about, no more goats, none of that stuff,” Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said. “It’s all looking forward. With continued success, we’ll make that ‘C’ into a symbol of winning and not a symbol of not winning, like it was.”

That’s so true. It used to be that people would come up to me and almost feel sorry for me but I tell ya that during that World Series run, I had so many phone calls. Everyone watched it and it felt different. Usually people jump on the band wagons to cheer for a team when their own team didn’t make. That’s normal, but when people cheered for the Cubs, you could tell that deep down there were a lot of Cubs fans. People could like the Red Sox but a part of them likes the Cubs. That’s why the 2016 World Series felt different.

Besides, guys like Anthony Rizzo, David Ross and Kris Bryant captured the imagination of fans everywhere. In a way, they brought baseball back to where it should be. Last fall, it wasn’t about contracts, free agency or other monetary deals; it was about the game.

From David Ross’s home run in game 7 to Bryant to Rizzo’s final out, the look on Bryant’s face said it all.

Elation.

Anthony Rizzo tucked that ball in his pocket to secure the memory.

“You kind of think you know what it would mean to people, but you really can’t know how much it means to so many people until you get there. It’s really been overwhelming. I don’t know how else to put it. It’s something that meant so much to so many people. I’m glad we could be here for it and be a little part of it.” Ricketts said.

Oh yeah, it’ll come again. They could be the first to repeat since the Yankees in the 90’s.

Baseball is unlike any other professional sport. It begins in spring. Hope springs eternal. New life, new dreams and new beginnings. It’s a game played with the utmost simplicity.

“You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball” Crash Davis Bull Durham

One of my greatest memories was from last year’s series against the Pirates before the All Star Break. We were at the game and watching Carl Edwards Jr throwing rockets during the warm up, my son turns to me and says, “Daddy, I want to be a pitcher.”

That’s baseball.

Believe it.