Cubs and White Sox Celebrate Banks, Minoso But Most Of All, Baseball In Chicago

Crosstown Cup

These one run games are more frustrating than losing two in a row. Yesterday, the Crosstown Cup got off to a rough start when Kyle Hendricks and the Chicago Cubs fell to their brothers 1-0.

The Professor Hendricks pitched a scoreless seven innings and is now over 22 innings without a run.

“It starts with command — command of all his pitches, command of his fastball, really locating well, and then his changeup has been very good,” Maddon said. “He’s just in a really nice rhythm right now. He really relies on location a lot, and it’s been there.”

I’m not a huge fan of interrelate play, but in today’s game, it’s impossible to ignore and in some cases like the Crosstown Cup which it’s all about bragging rights but it’s also the chance for every baseball fan in Chicago to be under one roof and have a sense of, “What if” these two teams met in the final series of baseball’s greatest trophy?

What if indeed.

“It was outstanding,” Maddon said about the atmosphere in the ballpark. “I’ve been involved in playoff baseball, All-Star baseball, World Series baseball. This place, on any day, it’s outstanding. This place, for baseball purists, if you want to know what’s good for baseball, it’s [days like this at] Wrigley Field. It’s really extraordinary.”

When the sun is shining and the smell of popcorn wafts through the nostrils, it doesn’t matter if the home team wins or loses because on days like these, it’s more than a game; it’s a celebration of everything that is great with a city, it brings a community together of baseball fans. Sometimes there are no winners or losers just a game, a pastime and a chance to enjoy the moment.

“Everybody, all the young players, the new owners, they want new, new, new,” Samardzija said. “So it’s always fun when you’re here. It just takes you back. It’s been the same as it’s always been. It reminds you of a time when players weren’t pampered with spas and saunas and things like that.”

Yes, there’s no place like Wrigley Field on a Friday afternoon.

Believe it.

Cubs Wood If They Could

chi-cubsc-20140815

 

It’s amazing what a couple of days can do to the Cubs. Last night, the Cubs fell to the Mets 3-2. A close game and you have to hand it to Chicago, they.ve been keeping it relatively close all season. However, Travis Wood is having a rough season. Yesterday, I railed on Edwin Jackson, but can you blame me for that? Travis Wood is a far more consistent pitcher, so yesterday’s struggles were more forgiving.

“Walks killed me,” Travis Wood said. “If you take out half the walks, it’d be a pretty solid game. That was the game. I had the two walks to start the fourth and the guy hit the ball out of the park. I gave up four hits, and one of them happened to be a long ball with two walks, and that was the game.”

The great news in the loss is the triple team of Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro did it again for the team. Castro went 2 for 4 quietly putting together a banner season for the kid.

It’s going to be a rough finish to the season, but an exciting one when the Cubs bring up Dan Straily who was brought over in the Jeff Samardzija deal. This is one Cub fan who is excited about the struggles the team has faced all year. Bringing the young kids up like, Kyle Hendricks, Javier Baez and now Dan Straily is proving the Cubs aren’t throwing in the towel. This is Wrigley’s 100th birthday and even though the team isn’t,” there” just yet; there’s something around the corner that’s exciting. There’s a plan coming to fruition. Whether it’s sending Junior Lake to Triple A. This is a team that wants to succeed.

Last year, it was Starlin Castro who struggled and this year it’s been Lake that’s had to learn how to hit. Sending him down was a good thing, the right thing to do.

“We tried to do everything we could throughout the course of the season, especially early, to put him in a decent place,” Rick Renteria said. “Obviously, it’s very difficult for the young man. Right now he’s a little disappointed, but I think he’ll catch a breath of fresh air, play again, get some at-bats, have some fun again, and we’ll see him here soon.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs decide to ship the young outfielder during the off season.

Believe it.

Mark Gauthier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home Sweet Home For Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks

Chicago Cubs v Los Angeles Dodgers

You can always come home and for Kyle Hendricks it couldn’t have been sweeter, and more awkward. It would have been nice if he wore a Dodgers uniform and the score was 8-2 for Los Angeles, heck, that’s how legends are made and Hall of Famers born.

Fortunately, Hendricks wears the Blue and the Cubs beating the Dodgers is a huge win for the club, be it, a morale booster, but these victories at this stage of the season over the,”Big” clubs will put confidence and some swagger, especially a shellacking like they did against the Dodgers.

“It was awesome tonight — that’s a heck of a lineup over there,” Hendricks said. “Every guy up and down can hit, they’re one of the best teams in the league. I was lucky to go out there and throw some strikes and get them out. It was really fun to have my family and friends here to watch.”

It was probably the only time when forty fans cheering on the Cubs in LA will ever get any kind of approval.

Now that Jeff Samardzija has migrated to Oakland, there’s a renewed excitement on the pitcher’s mound with Kyle Hendricks. What I like especially is how he went deep into the game. Going seven innings. This is the type of game the Cubs have to get because defense wins games. When a pitcher goes past five innings, that team usually wins.

“You always have lofty dreams but I was more concerned with the day-to-day work to get me here, and I think that’s what I attribute to finally getting me here,” said Hendricks. “I thought about playing up here but didn’t think about this moment necessarily.”

Not to be outdone by the rookie pitcher, Starlin Castro and Luis Valbuena both had excellent games with three hits by Castro and a solo shot from Valbuena.

The Post Season may be a daydream away, but one thing is for sure with these Cubs. They’re having fun again.

Believe it.

—Mark

Despite Catch of The Year, Rizzo And Cubs Stymied By D’Backs

Chicago Cubs v Arizona Diamondbacks

If there’s one word to describe Anthony Rizzo, it has to be, “Amazing” and you better believe it’s a damn cliché when I say the “Amazing” Anthony Rizzo or Captain Amazing. Because folks, that’s exactly what he is, amazing.

Sure the Cubs lost yesterday. The Diamondbacks poisoned any chance of the Cubs making the Wild Card but that will forever be known as “The Catch” Why? Because in true Cubs lore, only a player like Rizzo could destroy a Rawlings, make a catch like that, tie the lead in the National League in home runs and still end up losing the game.

Cubs eventually succumbed to the D’Backs 3-2

“We need to just win,” Rizzo said. “It’s another close game. We keep fighting and we’re in a position to tie it up. We didn’t come through, but we have to keep grinding.”

So, is it just another curse for the Cubs? Since the trade, they’re 11-13. Coincidence? Or is it just a case of a struggling team. Emilio Bonifacio will be back soon and Arismendy Alcantara made the first cut so you know what that means? Darwin Barney and Nate Schierholtz are most likely on the move. Or what about Junior Lake? He could be sent down. In baseball, anything can happen.

“We’re well aware trades will continue to take place and guys will be shuffled in different positions and get experience across the board and they’ll fit guys in certain situations,” Jake Arrieta said. “That doesn’t take away from our mindset of going out there and trying to win every series.

It could sound like a broken record. It might be a cliché taking one series at a time but I tell you, these are just growing pains. Theo Epstein’s plan is a year away from fruition. It’s working. Cubs fans aren’t the most loyal fans in sports; they’re the most patient.

106 Years? Pretty soon we’ll be saying “Last year’s World Series Champions”

Believe it.

—Mark

Diamondbacks Rear Their Ugly Head Against Cubs

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks

Last night’s game wasn’t pretty. Sure, Castillo’s home run was awesome and Starlin Castro going 2 for 4 showed promise but for some reason, the lowly Diamondbacks seem to own the Cubs. I don’t know why that is, but numbers don’t lie and since the “Big” trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, the Cubs have lost 10 of their last 12. Yes, Arizona beat up on the Cubs 9-3.

That’s disgusting. There’s no getting around that. I do have sympathy for the Cubs but they should have won those last two games against Arizona. However, “Should” has been scratched out, deleted and wiped from the books of baseball. It just simply does not exist. I’ve looked it up. You do the same.

I thought about not writing a post about last night’s game, but old habits die hard.

“For me, once we lost Hammel and Jeff, it’s a big gap to fill in the rotation,” Travis Wood said. “For sure, I really want to go out and give seven, eight innings as strong as I can every time and so far it hasn’t been happening. Like I said, I promise we’ll get there.”

He should know. There was a point in last night’s game when Welington Castillo went to the mound to have an old tete a tete with Wood, but you know that hurler just didn’t want to come out of the game. He’s been a struggling warrior all season and guys like him will turn their game around.

I’m holding out hope that Theo Epstein will pull the trigger and bring Baez up to get his feet wet. It’s inevitable because I’m confident Darwin Barney and possibly Nate Schierholtz will be packing their locker soon.

Folks, believe me when I tell you that good times are coming for the Cubs. Anthony Rizzo is in a position to lead the National League in Home Runs and although he went hitless last night, Arismendy Alcantara has got that explosive potential to be an all star.

“We still have to have conversations to see how we’ll go. It’s one of those situations where it’s still day-to-day.” Rick Renteria said.

All right, I was singing Mike Olt’s praise at the start of the season, but he’s faltered and gone cold. I think the Cubs shouldn’t make a quick decision on his future but he might be one of those sleeper players that a couple of years down the road might mature into something great.

Believe it.

—Mark

There’s Always This Year For Cubs

There’s a trade deadline fast approaching. Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel have all ready headed to the west. So, do the Cubs make another move? Well, the Cubs have a lot of holes to fill but deciding who will stay and who will go is going to be harder than finding the wins in the left column of the standings.

It shouldn’t be that hard of a choice. There’s a lot of players to choose from. Let’s start with Darwin Barney. A great defender considered one of the best in the majors and I’ll bet a dime to a dollar that he’s a great guy to boot any team will be glad to have him. Does he fit in the Cubs plans? No. His plate contributions haven’t been up to snuff this season and the Cubs have a well publicized stockpile of talent waiting in the wings. DARWIN BARNEY-TRADE

Nate Schierholtz is another guy who has stalled this year. He’s been getting better but not the same player he was a year ago. He’ll be gone.

Now for some of the difficult decisions. Junior Lake. After an explosive debut last season, the Lake’s run dry. He’s frustrated with his play and that’s a tough spot to be in because the talent is still there and he’s young so it wouldn’t benefit him or the Cubs to be in a situation where his confidence is not there. I’d shop him.

The team will have to make room for Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Javier Baez. Fans have been waiting a long time for them and soon it’ll be that time.

It’s a great time to be a Cub and unless you’re Edwin Jackson with an embarrassing contract hanging over your head, this time next year the Cubs will be in the hunt. Fans across the nation and beyond(with the exception of those pesky Cardinals) should wish them well.

But wait. Didn’t they say that last year? “There’s always next year” has become a mantra in the blue pinstripes and red “C” but next season the Cub will grow into a bear and it will be playoff hunting season.

Believe it.

—Mark

Jeter Bids Farewell At 2014 MLB All Star Game

MLB: All Star Game-Workout Day

It’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the 2014 All Star Game. With all the Pomp that comes along with it and the celebration of Derek Jeter’s swan song as an All Star, the inevitable first ballot Hall of Fame selection and the pure awesomeness of Giancarlo Stanton. There was an amusing moment for Jeff Samardzija.

Lining up with the National League but standing next to his American League teammates, it was a bittersweet moment for Chicago Cubs fans seeing their former ace in an Oakland Athletics sweater. Cubs fans were left felling, well, green.

“I asked for the union’s opinion on what they thought I should do, but since this has never happened before, they also didn’t have too much to say,” said Samardzija. “I just felt like the best thing to do was show my respects to the National League team by doing the workouts with them. I also think it’s important I get announced as a National League All-Star, just because that’s who I pitched for when I got voted in.”

The Shark is getting his chance at a post season this year and it’s well deserved. He was due and this is his moment to shine. I know I’ll be cheering him on this post season.

oh c’mon, the Cubs aren’t going to be there, are they?

Now, I would have liked to see more than one At Bat for the Northside, but this is supposed to be a break in the season and it’s a great way to celebrate America’s past time. After all, last night wasn’t about the Cubs, it was about the Man, Derek Jeter.

“I’m not retiring at the end of the year, because I don’t think I can play — it’s just the time is right,” Jeter said. “So today, I was fortunate. I enjoy playing these All-Star Games and competing against the best, and today, I was fortunate to get a couple of hits. But I still feel as though I can play.”

Last night he did it all too. However, that Adam Wainwright pitch looked more like a gimme than anything significant in the hurler’s arsenal. So what? Jeter proved why he’s got the moxy and why he’s one of the game’s greats. I look forward to seeing him in Cooperstown.

Believe it.

—Mark