Cubs Streak Continues, Just Not The Good One

Jake Arrieta

The Cubs just can’t seem to catch a break. It looked like this was the series that would break curses, shatter slumps and get the Cubs back on track but the Pittsburgh Pirates proved tough division rivals defeating the Cubs 8-4.

One of the many Cubs mantras over the years has been, “There’s always next year.” but lately their mantra has changed to “Tomorrow”

“Before, everything was pretty, and now everything is kind of ugly,” Miguel Montero said. “It’s baseball. You get a lot of ups and downs. … There’s another game tomorrow.”

Sure, Anthony Rizzo collected his 21st moonshot of the season and Jake Arrieta lived up to his Cy Young award from last year by trying to give the Cubs the lead, but even the mighty beard wasn’t anything to fear last night and Arrieta now has given up 16 earned runs in his last 4 starts. He’s looking human.

“When things aren’t going your way, those moments show up,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We’re leaving way too many folks on base. When you’re not able to score runs like we had been, everything else that’s a negative is magnified. We’re unable to play through our mistakes right now, and probably in the beginning of the year, we did. … No excuses, we have to do better.”

We’ve determined that this is a slump of epic proportions. In fact, if the Cubs hadn’t gotten off to their tremendous start in April and May, chances are they’d be trying for a wild card spot instead of a division championship. Cleveland,Texas and San Francisco have overtaken them.

“Honestly, I think it’s sort of baseball reality,” Theo Epstein said Friday. “It’s impossible to win at the pace we were winning at early in the season the whole year. Every team, even championship-caliber clubs, go through a month or so where they play .500 or so baseball, and that’s what we’re doing. It’s not surprising. I think our players would admit we haven’t quite had the same grinding relentlessness that we had in April. I’m very confident we’re going to get back to that.”

I don’t know if it’s nervousness that’s setting in or what, but the Cubs are quickly looking at their playoff hopes disappearing and are on route to being a part of the greatest collapse in sports history. Even worse than the Boston Red Sox collapse of 2011.

The start of the slump coincides with Dexter Fowler‘s injury June 18, From then until now, the Cubs have dropped 14 games. it goes to show you just how important he is in the lineup. The good news is he’s coming back. He’ll be there after the All Star break and the Cubs will get back to their winning ways.

Today we leave for Pittsburgh. Look for us in Section 120 Row Y on Sunday. We’re representing Canada at the game. With a team that is known for their fair share of curses, hopefully we’re the good luck charm that’ll end it.

Believe it

Cubs Need That Come From Behind Magic

Chicago Cubs

“The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville Nine that day;

the score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.

And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,

a sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.”

The best and the worst part of the Post Season was out in full force yesterday as the Chicago Cubs fell to the New York Mets 5-2 and are down three games in their best of seven series.

“Win on Wednesday,”Joe Maddon said. “It’s just about tomorrow. … Of course, we have to win four in a row, absolutely, but I want us just to concentrate on tomorrow’s game, that’s it.”

I don’t believe the Cubs are out yet. It’s been done before where a team has bounced back from a 3-0 hole in the post season. You might remember a certain Boston Red Sox team in 2004 that were down in the hole. You also might remember that President of baseball operations Theo Epstein was at the control centre during their historic run.

“Show up and win a ballgame tomorrow,” Theo Epstein said. “If we show up and win tomorrow, we’re dangerous. Trust me. It’s been done before, rumor has it. We can do it. We’ve had nine winning streaks of four or more games this year, so we get hot, we get really hot, we can do it. We just have to show up and win tomorrow.”

It’s certainly possible for the Cubs to come back from the deficit. They’ve done it before this season. They’ve won four in a row, did it a bunch of times. They’ll just have to reach down in their little bag of tricks and find that magic.

“Things bounce your way when you play good, and we’ve definitely gotten outplayed these first three games,” Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks said. “That doesn’t mean we can’t outplay them the next four.”

That’s all it takes. So, it’s easy to say that the Cubs winning 97 games in the regular season was a huge accomplishment for a team not expected to go far this season but just be a little better and next year will be the big year. Yeah, it’s easy to say that but for me, there’s still four more games to win.

Believe it.

Cubs Leave Milwaukee In a Stupor

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Baseball is a funny game. A damn funny game. I’m just checking the standings here and the Cubs are 9 1/2 back in the Wild Card standings. All right, all right it’s a long shot but still, there’s a very real chance that the Cubs can get in there. Don’t believe me? They’ve got a better record then the Boston Red Sox. The World Series Champions.

First off, is there any truth to the rumour that Kyle Hendricks could be a candidate for Rookie of The Year? Is there? The reigning National league Rookie of The Month for August, and nobody can take that away from him until next August went 4-0 before heading into last night’s game. His record is 6-1 since joining the club.

“That’s what you like coming out of the gate,” Hendricks said of the first, “but overall, I didn’t have my stuff tonight and I had to battle. I gave up some weak hits, but overall, I didn’t make a lot of good pitches. Luckily, I was able to get away with it, and guys put up a lot of runs early, which is nice. I had some balls hit hard in play that guys made good plays on.”

If there was an award for the most improved team, it would be the Cubs. Without Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, the Cubs rookies have been picking up the slack. The Cubs have won three straight without their two All Star. While we are on the topic of rookies, what about Chris Valaika? Did anyone see him coming?

“We’re playing good baseball now,” Valaika said. “I’ve seen it all year with these guys in Triple-A. If we keep this rolling, showing teams we can play going into next year, I think we’ll have something special.”

I noticed there was a lady in the crowd holding up a sign that read, “The Big Blue Machine is Coming.” and somebody else had one with 2016. Sounds Biblical.

Believe it.

—Mark

Cubs Get Star Spangled Victory Over Nationals

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals

Not to be outdone by Fourth of July fireworks, the Chicago Cubs set off a few Roman Candles of their own by trading Jeff “The Shark” Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, Dan Straily and a player to be named at a later date.

The trade comes on the heels of a four game winning streak and catapulting the Cubs like those Roman Candles, into 7.5 games back in the Wild Card chase.

So, what does this mean for the now surging Cubs? Well for starters, the Cubs easily disposed of the Washington Nationals yesterday, 7-2. Jason Hammell was yanked from the game after executing 92 pitches. I had a feeling there was something in the works about a week ago when Samardzija was supposed to pitch in today’s matchup but the team called up a pitcher although they made no indication that the deal would be with the Athletics.

“I have no idea why I came out of the game,” said Hammel, who surrendered five hits and struck out seven batters over six-plus innings. “I honestly believe you learn how to pitch when you get to 100 pitches. If you’re not allowed to reach that, I think that’s hurting you more than helping you. So I guess it is what it is right now. But for a guy that’s established and continues to work hard and prepares himself to throw late in games, deep in the games, 100 pitches shouldn’t even come into question.”

It had nothing to do with your pitching, Jason. You were traded. A few years ago, Mike Camalleri who played with the Montreal Canadians, was pulled halfway through the game and sent on a plane to Calgary. It happens.

Is this good news for the Cubs? I’m excited. I like Samardzija but I’m glad he’ll have a shot at a post season and I won’t have to type out that last name as much anymore.

The Cubs of course, are looking towards the future, but they’re also playing great ball of late and perhaps they could earn a spot in the post season.

Yesterday’s brunch proved that the series sweep over the Red Sox wasn’t a fluke. Justin Ruggiano hammered the ball to raise his home run total to four on the season. He’s been playing great ball of late and should only continue.

Baseball’s a funny game isn’t it? I never would have thought the Cubs would be in it this time of the year.

Believe it.

–Mark

Cubs Win Gem On Ruby Tuesday

My apologies for the lateness, but the hangover is still pounding over Fenway. The Cubs won a series in Boston for the first time since 1915. Holy Cow! it was a great game and our first time at Fenway. The staff at Fenway was exceptional. The experience was amazing and the seats were awesome. The Cubs won 2-1 “Are You Kidding Me?” If ever there was a day to go see Red Sox/Cubs, it was on Canada Day July 1.

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It was chilling to see that sign, but the moment we turned the corner from the train and saw that banner; I was speechless.

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Of course, I didn’t know that the guy was holding the sign above me, but my wife knew. It’s just my guess but I think they do that to every fan at the game. Speaking of fans, there were a lot of Cub sightings.

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Darcy got his picture taken with one of Boston’s Finest. We’re going to have our hands full when he gets older, I think he’s converted. All he ever talked about was the Red Sox.

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And the hot dogs.

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Our seats were great and when we go back, we just might get those same seats. At first it was a little uncomfortable being surrounded by so many Boston fans, I honestly thought we’d get tormented. In fact a couple of guys in the row ahead of us were watching as a few Cubs fans made their way down the aisle in the, “Excuse me, excuse me” routine. They said, “OH good, they’re moving way down.

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There’s the little guy taking it all in. I’d like to say he was into the game, but he’s three and more interested in everything around him.

So, what was Ortiz doing when he walked to first before the friggin’ pitch was thrown? I got some dirty looks when I made a comment about that. It was either Big Papi Cool, or just classless. Either way, I wasn’t impressed.

Nate Schierholtz, Justin Ruggiano and Starlin Castro made some grabs that were locked into highlight reels. There was a Boston fan sitting down beside us and I got into a discussion about the Ortiz move. I know he’s Big Papi, but I believe he shouldn’t have walked before the pitch.

Darcy was a little squirmy during the third inning so Mary Beth took him to the Kid’s Clubhouse to unwind, and man, did he unwind! He had a blast.

Do you want to know the magic of baseball? When a player tosses the kid a ball. Neil Ramirez, you made our son’s day when you reached into the bag and gave him a baseball. When it’s a kid’s first baseball game, they get treated like royalty. Wow!

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If you check out the Red Sox shirt Darcy is wearing and Wally tucked under his arm(who hasn’t left his side since the game) I’m just glad Clark was there.

Some of the fans got into Sweet Caroline
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So, as we bid farewell to Fenway and the great people of Boston, it was a great trip and in the end the Cubs swept the Red Sox. Edwin, I owe you an apology.

Are you kidding me?

Of course on the way back we made a pit stop in Cooperstown, one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been. This is my third time being there and every time it just gets better and better.

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I only wish they could have played two.

Happy Fourth of July, America!

Believe It.

—Mark

Cubs Take A Trip Down Holiday Road

It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about All Star Game’s, Trade Deadline’s or even baseball. Ok, maybe there’s some baseball there.

Yes folks, it’s that time once again for the phrase that strikes fear and excitement in the hearts of Americans and Canadians alike; Family Vacation.

On Saturday, my family and I are embarking across the border from our home and native land in Canada to the friendly nation of awesomeness, the United States. We’re going to Boston to visit that oh so great city but most importantly, and you knew there’d be baseball in this somewhere, we’re going to see the Cubs take on the Red Sox on July 1. What makes this so great, you might ask? Well, you Americans celebrate your birthday on July 4th, and to us Canadians, July 1st is Canada Day. We’ll be in the US on Canada Day. let me tell you, I’ve been getting grief on that.

I think it’s pretty cool that the game we’re going to see is on Canada Day because I’m a Cubs fan from Canada, my Twitter feed is @canuckcubbie and it’s against the Red Sox. What a great way to celebrate, eh?

One of my favourite films is Vacation starring Chevy Chase. That movie never loses appeal, especially since now that my wife and I have a young son who’ll no doubt be asking us, “Are we there yet?” at least five times. We’ll be eating sandwiches at roadside stops, visiting unusual landmarks and under no circumstances will we be tying my Mother In Law to the roof of the Hyundai.

Are we going to see Wally World? No, this is Fenway. The only thing that can be more discouraging than a “Closed For Renovations” sign at Fenway, is a Rain Stoppage.

There’s a little bit of the Griswald’s in all of us.

So, cue up, “Holiday Road” here we come Boston, Edwin you better win one for us.

Awe Heck, here it is:

Cubs in Pirate’s Davy Jone’s Locker

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So, my campaign to bring Stephen King to a ball game is off to a sluggish start. I still haven’t heard any news back from the horror master, but then again, I didn’t expect to anyways. Aw c’mon, like you didn’t think it was a good idea?

Speaking of horror stories, see what I did there? The Cubs lost a heartbreaker against their divisionary foes, The Pirates 2-1. it was an important series for the Cubs to win but now they plunged deeper into Pittsburgh’s Davy Jone’s locker also known as The Wild Card Race, where the Cubs sit at 8.5 back. Impossible? No. Welington Castillo is back and that should boost the team morale. Plus, those nifty throwbacks. Man, they look good.

“I’m proud of these guys, because they’re trying to — this is a very tough division and these are the games that you’re starting to fight, you’re starting to feel yourself, and we didn’t just come out and lay down,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “We kept playing, and we just fell short.”

That pretty much sums up yesterday’s loss. Plus, the fact that the Cubs went 0-6 in RISP kinda contributed to the defeat.

The good news is that Jason Hammel pitched very well and continues to get better.

“It’s just another 2-1 loss; there’s a lot of close ball games, but we’re playing well,” Hammel said. “We just can’t scratch and claw those runs that we need. It’s just a matter of learning how to do that, and that’s what’s going to make this team a winner.”

Although I don’t believe that’s entirely true. Like a lot of transitional teams(Rebuilding is such a cliché), the Cubs will have games where their pitching is great and defence is off or hitting is on the mark. of course, championship calibre teams have all working on just about every game. That’s a no brainer and in the Cub’s case, that’s all right.

I could say that it’s just awesome when the Cubs win a game or I could say it’s amazing when the Castro and Rizzo hit it long but I would be fooling myself. I want the Cubs to win. I want Nate Schierholtz to stare down the pitcher. I want to marvel in the youthful enthusiasm of Junior Lake. What about Luis Valbuena giving that familiar sideways peace sign to the eye? I want to see Jeff Samardzija smile once in a while and Pedro Strop to be lights out awesome. The reality of course, is that the pitching staff has been good, sometimes incredible.

just like I dream about hanging out with Stephen King at a Red Sox game, I dream more of the Cubs winning the whole damn thing.

Believe It.

—Mark