Cubs Remember The Greatest

 

Chicago Cubs

Even when the pitching staff gets the job done, they also get it done at the plate as well. Jason Hammel proved that in the Chicago Cubs 5-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday. He had a two run single in the fourth inning.

Is there anything that the Cubs can’t do?

“I don’t want to be an out at the plate,” Hammel said. “Just going up there, I try to rule things out. Not that I can think like a hitter, but I try to. First-pitch slider, you don’t want to go 2-0 as a pitcher, so I figured he’s coming heater.”

It’s always a good sign when Dexter Fowler hits a leadoff home run buying into Joe Maddon’s “You go, we go” mantra to Fowler.

An exciting thing to consider is that Anthony Rizzo has finally gotten his groove back. He’s 6 for 16 this month and 2 for 4 yesterday.

Welcome back Anthony!

Yesterday was a sad day for boxing fans  when we woke up to read the news that the “Champ” Muhammad Ali passed away at the age of 74.

“Really, it’s a segment of our history that I don’t think will ever be repeated,” Manager Joe Maddon said. “I don’t think there’s ever going to be that group of boxers that come back and provide that kind of entertainment and interest, that kind of charisma and everything else that he had going on. It was a very unique time. I was very fortunate to have experienced it.”

Today, Jake Arrieta and the rest of the Cubs will try for the sweep. Game time is 2:20 Eastern.

Believe it.

 

 

Cubs Won’t Break Curse If They Sign Chapman

Jason Heyward

The Cubs are off to their second best start in team history after a 6-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. It also seems that Wrigley Field is becoming more of the place where good things happen for the Cubs. Their record at home is a fantastic 21-7.

What’s impressing me so much this year is the pitching of John Lackey. At first I wasn’t sure if he’d fit into the rotation being an older pitcher but man, what a job he’s been doing. Yesterday was no exception. He pitched shutout baseball for 6 2/3 innings.

“I take a lot of pride in being somebody you can count on, somebody who takes the ball and somebody who goes deep into games and somebody who you know what you’re going to get.” Lackey said.

We all know that the Chicago Cubs have been marred by a history of curses,

Black Cats

Chicago Cubs

and just plain old WTF’s but this season is different. There’s a hint of respectability and a transition from the “Lovable Losers” to potential World Series Champions. Having the worst drought in professional sports history is a huge albatross to hang around the neck so without possibly hurting the cause, I’m going to that place where few Cubs fans fear to go;

Are the 2016 Chicago Cubs the best team in history?

  • They are on pace to win 111 games.
  • They are leading in All Star Voting
  • They have a Cy Young winner in Jake Arrieta
  • 2015 NL Manager of The Year in Joe Maddon
  • 2015 NL Rookie of The Year in Kris Bryant

The odds of winning the World Series are in their favour. So, I’m not jinxing anything here by posing this next question.

Should the Cubs sign Aroldis Chapman at the deadline? There’s a rumour about it.

Listen, I’m not a big fan of guys like Chapman who do bad things.  The integrity of the game lies in the fact that players come to the games and compete well and off the field are great human beings. There’s no denying that Chapman has pedigree being the hardest hurler in the majors. I don’t think there’s a place for him in the clubhouse, just my gut talking but there might be some bad mojo happening should the Cubs pursue him.

Believe It

 

 

Cubs’ Hendricks Gives Homework To Diamondbacks

Kyle Hendricks

You can disagree with me if you want, but last night’s 4-2 Chicago Cubs victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks was all about precision pitching in the form of Kyle “The Professor” Hendricks. He’s not the most flamboyant, yeah, that’s the word I’ve been looking for, but he gets the job done by dismantling the strike zone and unassumingly lobbing the ball over the plate. Last night, he pitched 6 2/3 innings and quietly stole the thunder from Zack Greinke in front of the home crowd in the desert. Hell, Hendricks even got a hit!

“I heard a lot of comments on the bench that a lot of guys were really having a hard time picking his ball up, whether it was a breaking ball or the sinker,” Arizona manager Chip Hale said. “[There was] just a funny spin to it. Sometimes it happens. You just run into a pitcher that doesn’t look that overwhelming when you look on video, doesn’t look that overwhelming from the stands, but he’s hiding the ball and just spotted it. In, out, down. He did a great job. You’ve got to give him credit.”

But it just wasn’t Hendricks getting it done, Ben Zobrist got three hits for the Cubs and Sophomore Kris Bryant garnered two doubles.

It all goes back to the pitching. When the pitcher’s on his game, so is the rest of the team. If Hendricks can fill the back end of the rotation and keep executing his pitches the way he’s done in spring and yesterday’s game, then the Cubs are in great shape for the year.

“I don’t think there’s anything we can’t do, honestly,” Hendricks said. “We’ve got all the pieces here — we lost Kyle Schwarber, which is big for us, but at the same time we have plenty of other guys who can step in and fill in. Our staff did a good job first time through and now it’s just keep going from here.”

Not to say that he won’t have any bumps in the road but after his matchup against Greinke, the cream of the crop in the National League, Hendricks’s confidence will build just in time for the post season.

Today, Jake Arrieta takes to the mound  before tomorrow’s home opener against the Cincinnati Reds when Jon Lester plans to wow the Wrigley Field faithful.

It’ll be great to see the brown twigs on the wall in the outfield, get the BBQ fired up and truly christen the start of the 2016 Chicago Cubs season.

Believe it.

 

Cubs Lose First One of Season

Jason Hammel

Kyle Schwarber’s season is done after tearing his ACL and LCL. The unfortunate incident occurred during Thursday night’s 14-6 victory over the Diamondbacks while Schwarber and Dexter Fowler were competing for a ball. Schwarber took the brunt of the hit and wasn’t able to walk off the field under his own terms.

I thought we were really well-positioned to win in large part because of Kyle’s presence on the team,” Epstein said, “and now we’re really well-positioned to win for Kyle. I think that’s how his teammates are responding and will respond going forward.”

We all know there’s a lot of depth on the Cubs team and Menenori Kawasaki  is expected to fill those rather large shoes.

“It’s tough,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said of losing Schwarber. “You see Kyle work so hard this spring and come into camp in shape and prepared to catch and play the outfield and do anything, anything he was asked to do. He did it all and he was ready to break out and be a bigger star in the game.”

Although the Cubs lost to the Diamondbacks 3-2, it was a good loss and shows that after starting the first three games of the season with a combined score of 29 runs, the team truly is living up to the powerhouse they’re predicted to become.

If there were any doubts I had about Jason Hammel, they were quickly squashed in his 2016 debut allowing one run over six innings of work. He’s another guy who is going to miss Schwarber.

“We worked together all spring and it was great,” Hammel said. “I feel terrible for him. It’s such a tough break. I was feeling pretty lucky last night when they said sprained ankle. When you go back and look at the replays, his knee was in a pretty bad place. Hopefully he’ll have a quick recovery and we’ll welcome him back. Hopefully he’ll be sticking around and hanging around with us as he goes through the long process of rehab. It’s a tough loss.”

Tonight, Kyle Hendricks will make his season debut. The often overlooked player had a terrific spring allowing him to make the rotation. I’m expecting “The Professor” to have a rebound year. He’s going up against Zack Greinke and although it’s not going to be the easiest of starts, I have faith in him.

“There’s a lot of headlines on our team. I’m pretty far down there,” Hendricks said. “That’s fine with me. I like it that way. I like focusing on myself, and if there’s not much going on, not much hype, that’s fine. I’m just going out there trying to do my thing and win some ballgames.”

All right, here’s my prediction with Kyle. He’s going to win 12 this year and his ERA will be trimmed to the low three’s. I have him in my fantasy pool and picked him last year. You’re going to see him come out of the shadows. Expect big things this season.

Believe it

 

 

Cubs Leave Angels Without a Wing and a Prayer

Dexter Fowler

Seven inning is all Jon Lester needed to put away the Los Angels Angels as the mighty Chicago Cubs took it to them with a final score of 6-1.

There were some struggles last season with Lester add a monster contract and way too much hype and you had a season that at times was disappointing for the left hander.

“Last year was so different,” Lester said. “There was a lot of hype involved around myself and a lot of expectations for myself and you try to go out there for the first start and live up to those expectations all at once as opposed to letting the season play out and go through your 32 starts and see where you’re at at the end.”

An unlikely hero in yesterday’s victory was Matt Szczur who crushed his first home run of the season.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure off my back,” Szczur said. “I’m just trying to go out there and play and help the team win. We’re here to win and coming off the bench or starting, I’ll help the team win any way I can.”

It was a great win but what made it so special was the combined score of both games 15-1 and the Cubs start the season 2-0 for the first time since 1995.

What?

Wow, who would have thought that but it’s true, and how quickly time flies.

What was so important about this series sweep has nothing to do with the 21 year drought of back to back victories to start the season, but with the confidence this squad has in each other and their ability to pull out the convincing wins. People can say that it’s only the beginning of the season and they can say that the Angels aren’t going to be contenders but the lineup the Cubs put on the field during these two games is exactly the answer to the hype.

It’s also going to plan.

Sure, the Cubs aren’t going to chalk up victories like they did over the Angels everytime and they’re going to lose a few but when they can get production from the back end guys like Szczur, the Cubs are going to be extremely difficult to play against.

“Matt Szczur is hot as a match,” Cubs catcher David Ross said. “What a great bat off the bench he’s been so far.”

The Cubs will enjoy a much needed rest before heading back to Arizona to take on the Diamondbacks on Thursday.

As Opening Day turns into Opening Week, the Cubs are getting things ready for Monday night’s opening of the 2016 Wrigley Field edition.

“We finished so strong last year, the expectations are pretty high,” Ricketts said. “I think fans are expecting this to be a really great year for us. People are just excited. I speak for all fans — let’s just get the games going. It was a great year, a great offseason, and we have the makings of a really strong team, so let’s just play games.”

Believe it.

Despite Loss, Cubs Don’t Suck

Joe Maddon

 

Despite a moonshot by Dexter Fowler, the Cubs couldn’t snag a win over the much improved Arizona Diamondbacks. Final score 8-3.

Of course the Cubs weren’t playing with the likes of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. However, Cubs pitcher Adam Warren got a chance to strut his stuff in the first inning but collected two runs against him.

“Things were moving a little faster than I wanted them to,” he said of the first inning. “It’s to be expected — I was a little jittery, anxious to get out there, especially with a new team. Just to get that first inning out of the way was really nice. It was really encouraging for me to go out there in the second inning and settle down and pitch like I know I can.”

Eh, that’s what spring training is for but as Adam Warren will tell you, he’s kind of under the spotlight after being traded to the Cubs for Starlin Castro.

“I know there’s a relaxed vibe here,” he said. “You feel the confidence coming from guys and that’s a good thing. Comparing with the Yankees, that’s hard to do. There’s just a lot of excitement here. That’s fun with the fan base and the guys. Everybody knows how talented this team can be and that’s what motivates everybody to come every day and work to get to that point.”

A relaxed vibe to say the least. As part of Joe Maddon’s “Respect 90” foundation for Prostate Cancer awareness, Limited T-Shirts with the saying, “Try Not To Suck” were worn by the players during practice. Of course we all know that the Cubs won’t be sucking this year.

“It’s the most positive negative you’ve ever heard in your life,” Maddon said.

Believe it.

 

Anthony Rizzo Shoulders The Cubs To Victory

Anthony Rizzo Chicago Cubs

It should have been called the Anthony Rizzo show as the Chicago Cubs downed the Arizona Diamondbacks, 9-6. It started with a deep hit to the corner that everyone thought it ended up in the bullpen which concluded a three run double.

“He has high standards, really high standards for himself,” Joe Maddon said Saturday after Rizzo drove in six runs, including three on a game-winning home run in the ninth, to lift the Cubs to a 9-6 victory over the D-backs. “I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve not seen that kind of play for this long.”

This year has been especially great for Rizzo. Not only is he on top of his game hitting wise but he’s making great strides with his base running prowess.

During the offseason, Rizzo boldly predicted the Cubs would win the tough National League Central division. In many ways, he’s taken that prediction as his mantra to the season and hoisted the upstart Chicago Cubs up and brought them along for the ride.

“I try to come in every day and try to be the best version of myself I can be,” Anthony Rizzo said.

Modest as well. Check this out though, at 25, Rizzo has quietly become the right leader for this Cubs team. He’s confident and skilled, but he’s also one of them. Sure, you have guys like Miguel Montero and David Ross anchoring the backstop and sharing their insightful wisdom on these young bears, but it’s Anthony Rizzo who’s in charge. He’s been there through the lean years and he’s represented the Cubs in All Star Games when there shouldn’t have been any right for the Cubs to be playing in the annual event. So should that day ever come when the Cubs finally win it all, I hope that Anthony Rizzo is the first to congratulate and be congratulated on the victory.

“He’s in that really elite group of baseball players regarding how they work an at-bat,” Maddon said. “On top of that, he’s a very good defender. Now he’s turning into a really good baserunner. He’s really elevated his game on all levels.”

Believe it