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.

Cubs Celebrate World Series With 5 Million Strong Parade

Wrigley Field

Every champion needs a championship parade. Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs proudly displayed the Commissioner’s Trophy to an estimated crowd of 5 million. From Anthony Rizzo’s heartfelt tribute to teammate David Ross to Joe Maddon’s updated T-Shirt “We Do Not Suck”, the river was dyed blue and a chorus of “Go Cubs Go” echoed throughout the crowd.

“I’ve been around baseball for a bit,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Never, never have I experienced anything like Wrigley Field on a nightly basis, never have I experienced anything like the conversations that I have with all of you when I run into you on the street. It’s different, it’s spectacular, it’s comfortable, it’s warm and it’s the way it should be. I want to congratulate the fans and thank you for being so patient.”

The amazing run the Cubs had during October 2016 will go down in history as one of the most thrilling and exciting playoffs ever played. It was truly a showcase for the game of baseball. The accolades and World Series fever will continue with an appearance tonight on Saturday Night Live. No word on which players will appear but rumours are that Will Ferrell will appear as Harry Carey.

Infamous fan Steve Bartman was a no show but that didn’t matter. In fact, I’m glad he wasn’t there. Not because his presence wouldn’t be welcomed, he probably would have been met with hugs, pats on the backs and maybe even shared the stage with the players. His absence represented a good bye of sorts to the not so great memories of Cub-dom. We now know there was never a curse on the North Siders. It was baseball rearing its ugly head sometimes in October.

“They say, ‘Mr. Ricketts, I’m 71 years old,”’ Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said. “‘Please win the World Series before I die.’ Now, I normally say something like, ‘OK, do you eat right? Do you take care of yourself? Do you exercise? How much time do I have?’ Well, for the thousands of people who have said that to me, and are still with us, there you go.”

As the victory sinks in( yes, I’m still numb from the win) I keep thinking of how important this championship means to a lot of people. I’m a relatively new fan compared to the die hards like Al Yellon from Bleed Cubbie Blue and all those folks born in Chicago who grew up skipping an odd day of school to watch them on WGN or go to Wrigley Field, that’s what’s so awesome about this victory. The look of relief on these folks’ faces is what it’s all about.

“The one thing that’s been proven true over time, in baseball and in life, is that human beings can accomplish more for others and for the group than they can for themselves,” Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein told the Grant Park crowd.

Cubs

As for the players, the last player introduced on the stage was David Ross. The grizzled veteran who is retiring this year was honoured by a tearful Anthony Rizzo. The respect given to the 39 year old “Grampa Ross” as he acknowledged the millions.

“He taught myself personally how to become a real winner,” said Rizzo, who then got choked up. “He’s like a brother to me. He’s taught me a lot in life on the field, off the field, how to be a better person. I’m forever grateful for him. He’s going out a champion forever. For the rest of his life, he can say, the last game he played in, he’s a world champion.”

1907, 1908, 2016

Believe it

Cubs Force Game 7. Tonight, One Drought Will End

World Series

The Chicago Cubs accomplished the near impossible in their 9-3 demolishing of the Cleveland Indians to force a game 7 tonight. They came back from a 3-1 series hole to tie it. When young Addison Russell hit his grand slam, the packed Cleveland crowd fell silent and suddenly, the hearts of Cubs players beat a little faster. In fact, Russell became the second youngest player in the history of the game to hit a grand slam in a World Series. Geez, they have stats on everything.

“I think tomorrow we’re going to come to the clubhouse with a lot of confidence and a lot of energy,” Russell said. “Game 7, it’s a kid’s dream.”

Tonight, one team will hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy. Tonight, the Chicago Cubs have the chance to end the longest championship drought in sports history. It’ll be one of the most watched sporting events in the history of broadcast television.

No pressure.

Joe Maddon’s decision to move Kyle Schwarber to the number 2 position proved to be the difference in the game. It provided a cushion for Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to do their Bryzzo things. They did. Each got a solo home run and the Cubs never looked back.

The head scratching began when Maddon made the call to the pen in the seventh for Aroldis Chapman. Why would he call Chapman with the Cubs having such a huge lead?

“I mean, seventh inning there because they came up, the middle of the batting order was coming up — Lindor, Napoli, Ramirez possibly — all that stuff,” Maddon said. “So I thought the game could have been lost right there if we did not take care of it properly.”

So here we are Game 7 tonight. This is the night that every Cubs fan has been waiting for. It’s fitting that Kyle Schwarber will bat probably second. It’s stunning and thrilling that Aroldis Chapman has pitched more than he has in such a long time. He might be tired, he might not. Is he ready?

“One hundred percent,” Chapman said through Cubs translator Mateo Moreno. “Last game? Of course, yes. I’m ready for whatever he asks me. I don’t recall [throwing so many pitches]. It’s only mental. It’s the seventh game, the reason they brought me here.”

Kyle Hendricks gets the start. My favourite player in baseball’s most important game. Baseball’s ERA leader for the season and NLCS hero over the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw has an opportunity to go into the history books. It’s fitting it should end this way. Whether the Chicago Cubs win or lose tonight makes no difference. They fought back in the World Series to be at this point. Underdogs to the end. That’s the Chicago Cubs way.

“Anybody who plays this game grows up dreaming of winning a World Series,” Kris Bryant said. “You know, we get to play in a Game 7. That’s pretty special.”

We get to watch the Chicago Cubs play in a game 7, that’s pretty special too.

Believe it

Chicago Cubs Staring History In The Face

Chicago Cubs

Tonight’s game in Cleveland is poignant in many ways. The Chicago Cubs are down in the World Series 3-2. They’re underdogs. Despite having the best record in baseball all season, the Cubs at this point in the season are true underdogs; and they like it.

Yesterday, I pointed out which teams were the ones that came back in their series to go on and win but today, I’m going to tell you exactly how the Chicago Cubs are going to win. Yes, I said win. I am a Cubs fan and even if they lose, they’ll still win.

Why?

There’s always next year.

It would have been nice to win it at Wrigley Field. The Cubs were tied in the series. All they had to do was go back to Wrigley and win three straight. BOOM! done History has been rewritten, Bill Murray gives Joe Maddon the biggest hug he’s ever had and becomes the celebrity spokesman for Kleenex.

Things aren’t that simple in Wrigleyville. Here we are in game 6 at Progressive Field in Cleveland a day after all spirits rose to walk the earth, including curses and dead goats. Tonight, the Cubs have their reigning Cy Young winner on the mound. Who better to stare down batters a day after Halloween than Mr. Fear The Beard himself, Jake Arrieta.

“We know if we lose we go home,” Arrieta said. “We’ve won three in a row many times this year, even more than that.”

Forget about tomorrow, the Cubs concentrate on tonight and get the job done. They know what they have to do. There’s no speech Joe Maddon could give that the players don’t all ready know in the back of their heads.

“Getting back to Cleveland with Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks rested and Kyle Schwarber back in the lineup presents itself differently,” Maddon said. “I think everything changes at that point.”

This is how it’s going to play out. There’ll be no shutouts, no hitters or perfect games. Arrieta’s pitch count will be between 85 to 90 before handing the ball over to Aroldis Chapman. You see, there won’t be an opportunity for set ups because Arrieta will be focused and his pitches will be controlled. He will go 8 1/2 innings of lock down baseball. There you have it.

Under strange circumstances, Schwarber was made for this series. At Progressive Field the Cubs will look to his bat for guidance.

“I don’t know there’s anybody in the league that can do that,” Ben Zobrist said. “It’s really, really difficult to wake up and get out of bed after six months … and be a great hitter like he is.”

Yes, Schwarber will be the home run kid tonight. The bats will be out tonight after been woken up on halloween. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo will contribute and lead this team where no other Chicago Cubs team has been in over 100 years.

“It’ll be nice — especially there,” Anthony Rizzo said of getting Schwarber’s left-handed bat back. “It’s a shorter porch to right. It’ll be warmer. He’ll have good at-bats and he’ll be ready for them.”

Believe it.

 

Cubs Down 2-1 in World Series. They Will Win Tonight.

Chicago Cubs

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Billy Williams threw out the first pitch and Bill Murray sang the seventh inning stretch. The first World Series game played on Wrigley Field soil was in fitting style, a loss.

The Cleveland Indians blanked the Chicago Cubs 1-0 in game three to take a 2-1 series lead. Nobody could blame Kyle Hendricks for getting into a tough situation early on. By keeping the Cubs into the game by not allowing a run and still not finishing the fifth inning, says a lot about how the game went.

“I wasn’t sharp, but they had a good game plan against me,” Hendricks said. “They were laying off some good pitches, putting together good [at-bats]. I didn’t have the feel today for myself, so I just had to battle through it.”

Of course he didn’t have the “feel” because in reality, last night’s game was centre stage for Chicago and sports. If there was anyone who needed to take the mound, it was Hendricks.  His cool demeanour and always thinking stance kept the excited crowd calm. However, the Cleveland pitching dictated the events. Josh Tomlin kept the ball away from the explosive bats of the Cubs. If there are curses to be had, then blame the fact that the wind was blowing out and the game ended in a one run victory.

“It’s rare that you see those conditions, and it’s a 1-0 baseball game,” Joe Maddon said. “But that’s how it works out sometimes. … From our perspective, we got out of the zone way too much. We’ve got to get our strike zone organized again for tomorrow night’s game.”

It’s easy to think that every game is a must win game, but tonight is exactly that. John Lackey gets the call and he’ll have to be razor sharp, competitive and bring his temper because Corey Kluber is his opponent. The Cubs will have to run the pitch count, get some foul tips and really work the count against Kluber. The long ball need not apply tonight regardless if the wind blows out or not. The Cubs have been shutout four times this post season and still end up in the World Series. So they’ve faced great pitching and their bats haven’t erupted lately, big deal! Tonight, it’s grind it out, sandlot baseball. Get mean, get dirty and if Anthony Rizzo has to draw a walk by getting hit, so be it?

“This is why you play the game,” Lackey said. “This is why I’m still playing at this stage of my career, at this age. I’m trying to win championships and trying to be a part of something special.”

Yeah, tonight’s going to be the game that decides which way the Cubs are going. I predict that if the Cubs win tonight, they’ll win it all. I know it’s a bold prediction but when you think about it, their #4 guy going up against Cleveland’s #1 if he wins and guys like Kyle Schwarber and Rizzo come through, well history will be rewritten.

Believe it.

Cubs Give Dodgers a Little R & R

Anthony Rizzo

I’m not bragging, but yesterday I predicted that Anthony Rizzo would have a big game and now we know the truth; he reads the Canuck Cubbie everyday, takes the words to heart and applies all my finer points of baseball to his game.

Yeah, right.

The Cubs played “Cubbie baseball” as Addison Russell puts it, by crushing the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-2 and tying up the NLCS at two games a piece. If anyone were just tuning into the series from the ALCS, they’d never have known that Russell and Rizzo were in the midst of a slump.

“This is a big win, for sure,” Rizzo said. “To even up the series, we have a chance to take another one here [Thursday] and go home with a 3-2 lead. In a way, this is just one game and we know it’s going to be a quick turnaround, but this was definitely a big game for us.”

It was a huge game fore sure. If the Cubs lost last night, they’d have been in a hole of 3-1. Yeah, they could have bounced back tonight with Jon Lester on the mound but then they’d have to face Clayton Kershaw. Instead, the win guarantees a return trip to Wrigley Field and an opportunity to win it all at home. I said the Cubs needed a miracle, and last night it looked like they had Angels in the outfield.

“It should help their confidence, there’s no question about that,” manager Joe Maddon said. “When you’re going through the moment they were, it’s a confidence issue. It always is. So going into [Thursday], I know when they show up at the ballpark, there’s going to be a good bounce about them. Probably going to see the ball better, slow things down a little bit.”

While Rizzo borrowed Matt Szczur‘s bat to get his three hits and a homer, Russell relied on something else to get his homer and three hits. I don’t know what it was, but keep using it.

John Lackey was yanked in the fifth inning but pitched well. He got into trouble by walking a couple of batters and that’s when the bullpen took over. You can clearly see that Lackey wanted to stay in. The tough Texan wanted that win and I do believe he was the spark that fired up the Cubs who are two wins from their first World Series appearance since 1945.

“How I feel personally is irrelevant now,” Lackey said. “It was a great team win and good to see our guys swing the bats.”

Lackey is known throughout the baseball world for his fiery personality and he didn’t disappoint. After a few questionable calls, Lackey raised his hand up to his chest, signalling to the umpire if that’s how high the strike zone should be. He’s a fierce competitor who isn’t afraid of telling anyone how he feels. He pretty much set the stage for tonight’s tie breaker with Jon Lester on the mound.

“What you’ve seen so far. It’s been a pretty interesting series to this point,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I did not expect it to be such a lopsided victory for us today. Although [the Dodgers] had theirs yesterday. Like I said, it’s two out of three right now. We know it’s at least going back home at some point. [Thursday] will be a pretty nice day to come out on top and going back home, having to win one of two. We’ve been pretty good at Wrigley all year.”

Believe it

Cubs Trail In NLCS. Need Miracle Against Dodgers

Joe Maddon

The Chicago Cubs are in head scratching mode. How do they solve the Los Angeles Dodgers after falling behind in the series 2-1?  The Dodgers beat the Cubs last night 6-0 in what looked like the Cubs were left wondering about the Dodgers. The Cubs shuffled their lineup, they’ve cleared the Clayton Kershaw hurdle but still those powerful bats that rocked opponents all season have fallen.

“We’re just not hitting the ball well,” Joe Maddon stated. “We’re doing the same kind of routines, the work is the same, the batting practice is the same, or the lack of it is the same, and we’re just not getting the results right now. There is really no excuse. We just have to pick it up quickly.”

Time’s running out and the Cubs have got to start those bats swinging. Are they too patient, cautious at the plate? Or where is that creativity? One thing is for sure, they look flat at the plate. With the exception of Kris Bryant‘s two hits, the Cubs aren’t producing any serious offence.

“It happens,” Jake Arrieta said of the Cubs’ offensive struggles. “It’s not ideal to happen in the postseason in these sort of games, but these things are possible at any moment in any game. Our guys are prepared. When a guy makes good pitches like Rich did, along with their bullpen, it’s going to be tough on us.”

It’s not supposed to happen in the playoffs. Maybe sometime in August, early September perhaps the bats get silenced while fatigue sets in, but during the playoffs. Fire, man. That’s when everything changes. Aces become legends and hitters turn into heroes. It’s not that the Dodgers are an excellent team, but during this NLCS, they’re looking very much like a team that won 103 games during the regular season, not the Chicago Cubs.

Look, going down 2-1 in a series isn’t the end of the world. Slumps do happen and it can take a Javier Baez line drive or an Anthony Rizzo home run to change directions.

“Belief is very powerful, and we all have that here,” Kris Bryant said. “The peaks and valleys sometime make you go crazy, but we have more games to play.”

John Lackey gets the start tonight. The grizzled veteran is going to have to muster up all his wealth of experience to pull a gem from his glove for this one. Yup, the Cubs will need to pull out all the stops tonight. Put in Jason Heyward and his outstanding defence. I would put David Ross behind the plate with his competitive fire and get creative. Lackey’s going to have to grind it out tonight. Go late in the innings and show the Dodgers that Texas fire because tonight, more so than any other night is what playoff baseball is all about.

“This is a different situation,” Bryant said. “I feel like last year their pitchers just beat us. Right now we’ve had some chances. We’re only down 2-1. Last year at this time, we were down three. That’s obviously not good.”

Anthony Rizzo will be the hero tonight.

Believe it