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.”

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Cubs Ring In Loss As Winners

World Series

It wasn’t that Cubs starter John Lackey, was awful. No, after giving up a questionable, a home run and a verbal beat down on the umpire, Lackey settled into a groove that was quite impressive. In the end, he struck out 10 but it wasn’t enough as the Cubs fell to the Dodgers 2-0.

“The first pitch might have been a strike, or was a strike, and I think that threw him off a little bit,” manager Joe Maddon said of Lackey. “Once he regrouped, he was outstanding after that.”

Who could blame the Cubs for losing either? I mean the Dodgers were stunned in the NLCS last fall and then having to endure a banner raising that was over a hundred years in the making, I’d be a little ticked off as well.

To be fair, there were a few long balls that would have sent some fans home happy but when the wind is blowing in, it doesn’t matter how hard the ball’s hit it just won’t clear the ivy.

“Wrigley got us, man,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s part of the game here. We know that. Toles crushed his — that was low enough and the trajectory was better.”

It was an evening to remember despite the loss. Some lucky fans were chosen to hand out the rings to their heroes and you can tell by the looks on their faces that it was an honour to shake the hands of Chicago’s dream team that ended curses and finally allowing long suffering fans a chance to move on.

“I think it’s the perfect method to do this tonight,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the fan presentation. “The folks who are part of the ceremony, they will never forget tonight, and even the folks sitting in the stands watching.”

Sure, it might be meaningless for a bunch of high paid athletes to receive 108 diamond studded rings but what I noticed with the players and the fans is that there was a feeling that last night’s moment was bigger than anyone there. None of the players, owners and yes, Len Kasper and JD took the moment for granted. It was the first time in Wrigley Field and Chicago Cubs history that rings were presented.

“It truly represents quite an accomplishment, and it’s something we’ll have for the rest of our lives,” Maddon said.

David Ross threw out the first pitch and sang the stretch which was probably difficult for him watching his former teammates in the heat of battle. It was a classy gesture to see Jon Lester catch for Ross.

“I couldn’t control my emotions,” Ross said. “The day built up on me. I was excited to get here. I felt like I was a kid coming to his first Major League game. Even watching the game from the stands, it was the first time I ever did it. It was really, really cool. I felt like a kid out there. It came out in my walk, my skip, my high-fives.”

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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

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Cubs Down 1-0 In Series. That’s All Right

World Series

There’s a reason that these two clubs are playing in the most important series in baseball. Both teams are lights out dominant on both sides of the plate. In last night’s 6-0 shocker at the hands of the Cleveland Indians, the Chicago Cubs didn’t look sharp but then again, Corey Kluber is the best ace the Indians have on their roster and he made the Cubs pay a hefty price for those World Series tickets.

“We knew [the Indians’ formula] going in,” Cubs catcher David Ross said about facing Kluber, Miller and Allen, “but I think the moral of the story is we got to see those guys on Day 1. Hopefully, that will pay off later.”

Blubber had eight strikeouts over three innings. When that nasty stuff is thrown over the plate, it will befuddle batters if they haven’t faced it before. Jon Lester looked awkward trying to figure out Cleveland’s batters after a frustrating bottom of the first inning where he walked two batters and loaded the bases that resulted in a 2-0 lead.

“I didn’t throw strikes,” Lester said. “There’s no beating around the bush. It’s not like I all of a sudden forgot how to throw a strike, I just didn’t throw a strike. I didn’t get ahead, didn’t execute pitches. It can’t happen. It’s not acceptable.”

Now, it may seam that I’m harping hard on the Cubs after that game but there were signs that it wasn’t all bad. Ben Zobrist hit into the gap for a double and the return of Kyle Schwarber was welcomed as he was a mere two feet from sending the ball over the wall but instead settled for a double.

“We put really good at-bats up against these guys,” Schwarber said. “We just didn’t come up with the knock when we needed to, but that’s baseball. I can hound myself for not getting a knock against Miller with two guys on, but it’s baseball. You just have to move on to the next day.”

This is game one. There’s no locker room rant or talk that’s going to get them amped up for game two. These guys are here for a reason and if that’s the best that Cleveland’s got, then the Cubs should adapt well in game two. Getting Kluber out of the way was a blessing. The way I look at it, the Cubs started slowly in the NLCS as well. I wouldn’t call this a hole but rather an opportunity for the Cubs to “feel out” the opposition. This is the magic of the World Series. These teams don’t know each other very well and in a way, sends a message regarding Inter-league play and perhaps limiting it.

Tonight, Jake Arrieta gets the call and he has to be focused and sharp. The reigning Cy Young winner will find his control and settle the Cubs down.

“I think what you really learn with the more experience you get in the postseason is the finer details,” Arrieta said. “Controlling the running game, not allowing mental mistakes to — not allowing your opponent to capitalize on your mental mistakes. Because, obviously at this point in the season, the team that makes the fewest mistakes typically wins the ballgames.”

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Cubs Looking To Wrap Up NLDS

NLDS

The Toronto Blue Jays swept their first series in history and move on to the ALCS and for Canadians, it couldn’t have been a more Happy Thanksgiving then seeing Russell Martin have the game winning hit that sent Josh Donaldson home.

The Chicago Cubs and Jake Arrieta are making plans to head to the NLCS if they can wrap up their series against the San Francisco Giants tonight. Arrieta will be facing Madison Bumgarner at 9:38 pm eastern. We all know that Arrieta is the reigning National League Cy Young winner but this year, the emergence of Kyle Hendricks and the solid Jon Lester have pushed Arrieta into the three spot on the depth chart.

“I’ve had these moments in the past, and it’s just something you really want to relish and try to embrace and enjoy as much as you can,” said Arrieta, who went 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA in three postseason starts last year. “You play the long season — regular season — to get to this moment, to have these types of opportunities, and you prepare and you move forward accordingly and try to take care of business. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Tonight’s game is part of the puzzle that Theo Epstein has put together. The dramatics will be intense and I’m sure Bill Murray will be dancing in the stands. Joe Maddon is the perfect manager for tonight’s game. He’s loose and intense, fun and strict all wrapped up and sporting those Buddy Holly frames.

“There’s a power in letting the guys be free and play kind of without any restraints and thinking [about] things,” David Ross said. “He wants you to kind of just play the game, almost like in Little League. When you make mistakes, which we have done all year, you learn from them, try to teach and move on. These guys continue to grow. … There’s a continual growth, and that stems from Joe.”

That’s exactly what he brings to the table. Looking at guys like Kyle Hendricks who looks almost like he should still be playing Little League, the Cubs team is deceptive. However, tonight the Cubs are going to have their hands full against a Giants team that’s struggling to remain in the series and although Arrieta hasn’t had his best season after his award winning 2015 campaign, he’s focused, rested and ready.

“Well, from a numbers perspective, I would have liked maybe to be a little bit better,” Arrieta said on Sunday. “But at the same time, [I] took the ball every five days, had a lot of great things throughout the season to be excited about. … I’ve prepared the same way from start to finish and really like the process and trust the stuff moving forward, and know that it’s more than good enough to have a lot of success for this team in the postseason.”

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Cubs Strike First In NLDS After Baez Hits Big.

Chicago Cubs

One thing is for certain after the Chicago Cubs 1-0 win over the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS last night; nothing is for certain.

All the Cubs celebrities were well represented with an exuberant Bill Murray hanging out with fans and blowing a gasket after Javier Baez‘s home run. Then there was Pearl Jam singer and Chicago Cubs balladeer Eddie Vedder hanging with Theo Epstein in the suites.

The Cubs aren’t going to have an easy time against the Giants, even after the North Siders 103 victories during the regular season. Last night, it didn’t matter. Both the Cubs’ Jon Lester and the Giants’ Johnny Cueto were locked in a pitcher’s duel that went on until the bottom of the eighth inning when Javier Baez hit a rocket into the basket on the outfield wall to break the 0-0 tie.

“I don’t think it’s any coincidence that he ended up hitting a home run because of what he had done in his earlier at-bats,” Joe Maddon said. “He was up there working good at-bats. He wasn’t trying to do too much. Even the home run, I mean, it wasn’t his ‘A’ hack, but it was in an area that he can do that with, so he didn’t try to force something.”

The Cubs are now 10 wins away from baseball’s ultimate prize but win #1 didn’t look like it would be a wrap when the leadoff hitter reached base. I thought Lester was off to a shaky start but once the Opening Night jitters were swept away, Lester sunk into his groove.

“That leadoff guy is so important in the playoffs, but just in baseball in general,” David Ross said. “That concerned me early on. But once he started locking in and settling in — and he hadn’t pitched in a while in this atmosphere. I don’t care what you say. That was a great atmosphere there tonight, and I had butterflies getting out there and getting going.”

When the Cubs inked Jon Lester a couple of years ago, I was worried about him getting it done, but last night Lester and Epstein almost shared a smile knowing full well that it was the very reason he was brought in for on nights like Friday. The playoffs and the road to the World Series.

“I think some guys, when the lights shine the brightest, they’re better,” David Ross said. “It’s just a fact. I’ll take him any day of the week in any game, especially in the postseason. I’m putting my money on Jon Lester.”

You can put my money on Baez too.

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Cubs Anxious To Get The NLDS Going

NLDS

Today is the day the Chicago Cubs begin their quest for baseball immortality. A trophy that has eluded the fabled franchise for more than a hundred years. Under normal circumstances, expectations would be low, “Hey, we’re just happy to be here” is no longer a phrase spilling from the mouths of young Cubs. This year is different, the Cubs are the best team in baseball and are expected to end droughts, make grown men drop their beer and cry when the team wins it all at the end of this month.

Are the Cubs ready?

“Yes,” Cubs catcher David Ross said. “[It’s like] the cooped up dog in the house all day and the owner gets home. We’ve been running around the house for too long and we’re ready to get out on the field and play some catch and hit and throw and be a part of everything we get to watch on TV. We’re excited. I was up late last night watching the game. As soon as it was over, I was like, ‘OK, I can’t wait until we get our turn.'”

Game time is 9:00pm tonight and Jon Lester takes to the mound, rightfully so. He’s a veteran and his playoff experience brings its own pedigree with the catcher Ross.

“The biggest thing is I know what Rossy is bringing tomorrow, he knows what I’m going to bring and I think we have a way of communicating to where we can talk each other off a ledge if we need to or pump each other up if we need to,” Lester said yesterday. “It’s a good working relationship and, like I’ve said before, he knows how to push my buttons and I know how to push his and we try to get the best out of each other. We’ll try to ride that wave again tomorrow.”

The playoffs always comes down to great pitching and the Cubs have had that great pitching all year.

“A lot of is based on recent productivity,” Joe Maddon said. “The fact that Jon has nailed it, Kyle has nailed it. But they’ve also been very good at home where Jake’s also been good on the road. And John Lackey doesn’t care where he pitches.”

The Giants are going to be tough to beat. In fact, should the Cubs don’t get past this round, it’s going to be caused from a curse or fate, it’s what I believe. The curse of the Cubs or the recently anointed “even year” of the Giant. I want to see good baseball. Naturally, I want to see the Cubs win it all but this is the time of year when those hefty contracts are cashed in.

“It’s nice to have the days off,” Kris Bryant said. “I think a lot of us feel recuperated. Our bodies feel good. It’s just a matter of getting going. I’m sure there’s going to be some nerves and some anxiousness there early on.”

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