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 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’ Hendricks is a Rock Star

Kyle Hendricks

Kyle Hendricks is damn good. In many ways, he’s like that rock star that doesn’t go all Eddie Van Halen over the mound, instead, he’s more like Keith Richards getting it done during the game. Nothing fancy, nothing spectacular but always satisfying.

Yesterday, the Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-2 in a comeback win that played the foundation for a truly great finish to September. There’s only three weeks left until the post season and the way Kyle Hendricks pitched yesterday and like his BA in Economics from Dartmouth, he was efficient.

“I don’t think there’s any doubts,”Miguel  Montero said. “Is anybody having a better year than him? Probably he doesn’t have as many innings as other guys, but that’s not his fault. He goes out there and gives you his best. The way he’s been pitching, I don’t see anyone pitching as good as he’s been.”

He only garnered six strikeouts but he befuddled those six batters and laid the groundwork for the Cubs glorious comeback thanks to Montero and Chris Coghlan. Those every other day players that came through when it matters. Each collecting two hits but providing that late rally to seal the win for Hendricks.

“It’s a little bit harder when you don’t play every day and your timing is a little bit off,” Montero said. “What am I going to do? I can’t put pressure on myself trying to get four hits in one at-bat, because it ain’t going to happen. I go out there and have fun, and if I get hits, good, and if I don’t, I still have to go catch and call a good game.”

It’s awesome to think that Kyle Hendricks has the lowest ERA in the game at 2.07 and that he could wind up with that Cy Young award. It’ll be good for the game if he does. Quietly unassuming but showing up to work when it’s his turn in the rotation, Hendricks is getting a lot of attention from other teams about his performance.

“He’s pitching at a very high level,” Brewers Manager Craig Counsell said. “He’s become great at what he’s been good at. He’s a challenge. He’s able to manipulate the baseball, command the baseball.”

He’s bringing the science of the game back. I’ve been telling my wife about this guy since he started a couple of years ago, reminding her of how good he is every time he wins(Sometimes I wake her up just to let her know). The Bleed Cubbie Blue has been gushing about him all along as well and every now and then we tip our cap each other’s way,”We knew it all along” If the Cubs do go on to have a storybook finish, it would be fitting if Hendricks won the MVP. That unsung hero quietly getting it done.

Believe it.

 

Cubs Deal With Controversy, Rain Delays and Victory

Jason Heyward

It’s funny that the Chicago Cubs most intriguing news happens when I go on vacation. On Monday, the Cubs signed the most controversial pitcher in the game today in Aroldis Chapman. It’s still hard to fathom that he’s on the North Side. My views and thoughts are best exemplified in  Bleed Cubbie Blue’s fantastic piece on this issue. If the Cubs should go all the way, I’ll be cheering on the team and not Chapman.

Yesterday’s monstrous win over the Seattle Mariners  12-1 saw the Cubs now legendary bats swing again after a dormant month. Jon Lester is beginning to resemble the player the Cubs signed those many moons ago. Right now he’s 11-4. That equals his total from last year. He pitched shutout baseball in 6 innings. That’s what the Cubs need from him going forward.

Then there’s David Ross, the “Old Man” of the team on his farewell tour, went 2 for 4 and took the cover off the ball for his seventh home run of the season.

What about Jason Heyward? His struggles this season have been well documented so it was a welcome relief that he cracked his first home run since June 11.

“This year has been tough, I’m sure, for him,” Lester said. “I’m sure people check the boxscore and they don’t watch the game. He’s squared a lot of balls up for us this year and hasn’t had much to show for it. That’s hard, because this game is built around results. He’s been grinding, and that [homer] was big for him to have that big swing for us and kind of get us going a little bit. Everybody’s in there rooting for each other and especially for him. That ball he ran down in the gap by [Robinson] Cano was a big turning point not only for me, but for us as a team. He brings so much other than what he does at the plate to this team. I think it gets overlooked at times. I’m sure it’s huge for him. He probably won’t admit it, but it’s big for him.”

When people talk about the controversy surrounding Chapman, they’re talking about the character of the team. Guys like Ross and Lester who show up everyday and push the team with no baggage and then there’s Heyward who’s been struggling all season and there were no complaints. Just support.

In a statement by Tom Ricketts, he addresses the situation with Chapman:

“Obviously, we are aware of the circumstances surrounding Aroldis Chapman’s suspension earlier this season. We are also aware that he cooperated fully with the league investigation and takes responsibility for his actions.

“Today, prior to completing the trade, Theo, Jed and I spoke with Aroldis. I shared with him the high expectations we set for our players and staff both on and off the field. Aroldis indicated he is comfortable with meeting those expectations.

“Finally, my family, this team and Major League Baseball take the issue of domestic violence very seriously and support efforts to reduce domestic violence through education, awareness and intervention.”

Domestic Violence does not wear a World Series ring, sign high priced contracts or has an option for extension.

Believe it.

Cubs Have Some Serious Questions

Theo Epstein

The trade deadline is coming up and there’s been a lot of discussion involving Kyle Schwarber. I’m going on record to say that I hope the Cubs do not trade him. What happened to Kyle at the start of the season was unfortunate with his season ending injury but the team has endured.

“Kyle is a huge part of our personality and our culture,’’ Epstein told USA Today. “It wouldn’t be right to trade him.’’

Of course we know money talks and rightfully so that he shouldn’t be discussing any trade deals. My take on a possible Aroldis Chapman deal is that the Cubs should not go for him. Sure, he can throw a 105 MPH rocket but his off field drama would probably weigh too heavy on a young Cubs organization. His arm would be a huge asset to a struggling Bullpen but at what cost and he would more than likely be a rental player.

Bleed Cubbie Blue has an interesting scenario should the Cubs deal Schwarber, it involves Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer. It would work. The only reason the Cubs would trade Schwarber is due to his defensive abilities. He struggles a bit but nobody is disputing his plate approach, the kid has the tools.

The trade deadline is less than two weeks away and there are many questions to be answered. The Cubs have built up a lot of prospects that they have at their disposal should they be in the market to acquire some more firepower at the deadline.

“We also haven’t touched certain parts of our prospect inventory. That will keep us really viable for every opportunity that’s still out there between now and August 1. Sometimes you can be in an uncomfortable spot if you haven’t done anything and you’re sitting there July 31 – August 1 this year – waiting for a ‘yes’ or a ‘no.’ It’s hard not to throw that last player in just to get a deal done if you haven’t done anything. It’s something to fall back on. It gives you the ability to say ‘no’ or draw a line if you need to. But it also keeps all our opportunities open. The prospects we moved weren’t in any other deals that we were talking about. We haven’t touched the prospects that we were potentially going to move in some bigger deals that didn’t come to pass and may be resurrected in the future.” Epstein said.

Right now, the Cubs are looking at an easy schedule when they face the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago White Sox back to back. if they want to make up any ground and lay the foundation for October, this is the time to do it. Dexter Fowler should be back sometime this series.

“It’s important that they send a strong message to the team,” veteran catcher David Ross said. “You have to (with) a team that is in first place and was four wins away from going to the World Series last year. You’re looking at the big prize at the end of the season.”

Believe it

Cubs Can’t Wait For Bryant

Joe Maddon Chicago Cubs bleed cubbie blue

As far as professional sports franchise go, the Chicago Cubs are probably the most storied team. Yes, that’s right I said it. Yesterday, Travis Wood and the Cubs lost a tough one to the Colorado Rockies, 5-1. Now, I say “tough one” not because the Rockies are on fire in this young season, but there were some oddities at work here. Let me start with Starlin Castro.

He made a crucial error in the game where the ball seemingly went right through his glove in what was just another routine play. Sure, you can chalk it up to leftover rust, but c’mon, he’s been doing this for a few years now and has quickly turned into the kind of player that no team wants. Yeah, he’s good but those mental mistakes should not happen at this stage of his baseball career. If the Chicago Cubs have any hope of winning the World Series, then he’s got to get rid of those mental mistakes quickly. Swearing into his glove is just not going to cover those mistakes either.

Now, in many ways I bleed cubbie blue just like the rest of Cubs fans who are die hards, but sometimes there is only so much we can give. I’m not talking about the team as much as Starlin Castro. The season is young so I can forgive the mistakes that a young season brings, but with Starlin Castro?

Get it together.

Another area for concern was the missed opportunities.

“We keep putting ourselves in position and battling and getting good at-bats,” Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo said. “We just have to learn to capitalize more on pitchers and when they’re in trouble, not us. We’re not the ones in trouble at that time, that moment. We had the pitcher on the ropes a few times and didn’t come through. If we keep giving ourselves opportunities, good things will happen.”

And I believe that too. Hey, it was good to see Edwin Jackson in his new role. I’m a believer that good things will happen now that “EJax” is putting a shift into his game.

Now, there’s a bit of a problem with RISP. It’s been a problem the last few years, but that’s practice. Once guys like Soler, Rizzo and when Kris Bryant eventually gets up then those things will iron itself out.

“I liked the way we went about our business,” Joe Maddon said. “We just couldn’t get the hit when we needed to.”

Kris Bryant, where are you?

Believe it.

Cubs Not Kidding Around

The Chicago Cubs season is just over 24 hours over and I’m all ready missing baseball Northside style. Wrigley Field has started the renovations over a few years but like any great Hollywood script, it’s part of the plot to a much bigger story.

The Cubs fit their namesake. They’re young and they’re hungry. Next season when they come out of hiding, they won’t be looking for berries or Mama Epstein, they’ll be searching for a championship.

“Not all of the prospects work out, but we like these players quite a bit and they have a chance to play together for a long time at Wrigley Field,” Epstein said. “When you put that together with a couple of 24-year-old All-Star caliber performers like Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, you can’t be but excited about our future.”

These young prospects haven’t heard about curses, shoot Castro and Rizzo were thirteen when that “incident” happened out in left field.

So let’s wipe the slate clean, start fresh. It seems to be the belief in the organization. Next season, the Cubs will have a lot of depth in the lineup. Of course, they still need pitching because if I were Epstein and Hoyer, I’d dump Edwin Jackson’s salary. I’m not being mean when I say he’s a lame horse. Swallow up that salary because if there were a missing piece to that puzzle, it’s that spot in the locker room with the piece of tape reading,”JACKSON” He has to go.

I was so impressed with Neil Ramirez this season that maybe he could fill that spot, but then again I agree with Bleed Cubbie Blue, Neil Ramirez is best used in the relief spot.

The offence should be bolstered with Kris Bryant coming up next season and the maturation of Jorge Soler and Javier Baez as well.

“One of the hardest things to do in the National League, and what we want to do, is have a good lineup one through eight,” Hoyer said. “When you do that, it’s hard on the pitchers over here. The more we can eliminate the easier outs and the lack of depth lower in the lineup, I think the better our offense will be.”

Believe it.

—Mark