Cubs Rookie Hits Walk Off Slam

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Last night’s game against the Washington Nationals had all the makings of a classic. Two pitchers similar in age and style, going head to head in a duel. Cole Hamels and Max Scherzer matched each other in strikeouts throughout the game. In front of a televised sellout crowd at Wrigley Field, fans stuck to their seats with the Cubs down three runs in the bottom of the ninth, when something happened that only happens in Little League, playground parks and movies;

 David Bote.

The call up fill in for all star MVP, Rookie of The Year and World Series champion Kris Bryant, hits a grand slam. Final score: 4-3

“Today, I said, ‘You know what, I’m not going to get beat down there,'” he said. “The one that was down and away that he called a strike, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s what I’m looking for.’ It was a close pitch. I got that [2-2] pitch and I was like, ‘Just get it in the air. Hit it as hard as I can to center field.’ That was the approach and get underneath it.”

The whole game would have been a gem even if the Cubs lost but this was magic.

“He’s the kind of guy who gets overlooked, and even when he gets into an organization, based on his Draft status, he’s not talked about often until he does something spectacular,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Bote, an 18th-round pick in 2012. “He’s one of those guys who has to show it for people to believe it. He’s worked his way to this situation. Give him credit. It’s going to keep getting better.”

If the Cubs go on to October magic, this will be the moment their season will be categorized and Immortalized in those Life Magazine tributes. Even Cole Hamels Wrigley Field debut, although he didn’t get the win, would have given him his moral victory with nine strikeouts as well as the matchup against Mad Max

“It’s a great feeling. The teammates that we have on this team, the support, every single guy, we’re in it from Pitch 1 every single day. When you round those bases and you got the ‘W’ and I see my teammates at home plate jumping around, it’s magical. It’s incredible. It’s an unbelievable feeling. It couldn’t happen to a better team or a better group of people in that clubhouse. I’m so blessed to be part of it.”

Believe it

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Cubs and Nationals Could Be Playoff Preview

Kyle Hendricks

Compared to their debacle over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, last night’s 4-1 loss to the much better Washington Nationals proved that this week is going to test the Chicago Cubs on their way to October.

Max Scherzer controlled the game, striking out 11. It could very well come down to these two teams in the National League in October, they’re that good.

“That’s what you’ll see when you get two really good baseball teams is you’ll see a lot of that close action and it’s a battle of inches that permits you to win or lose those games and they won the battle of the inches tonight,” Maddon said.

This week will be tough because after the Nationals, the Cubs will face the Pirates and the Cardinals. See what I mean? This week will show what kind of team the Cubs are.

“You’ve got to beat the good pitchers,” Maddon said. “In order to win in the playoffs, you have to beat good pitchers. [Scherzer] is one of them. We beat him one time, he beat us this time. In the playoffs, you see good pitching. That’s why teams get to the playoffs is they have good pitching. Bottom line, you have to compete against the good ones.”

Not only good pitching but an all around great team in the Nationals. It’s really good that the loss came at this time of the year. It’ll expose what the Cubs need to improve on going forward in the season.

“You’re dealing with arguably the best team in baseball right there,” Addison Russell said praising the Nationals. “Guys that come in every day wanting to win and they have the bats and arms to prove it.”

The fact that the Cubs were 43-18 heading into last night’s matchup and was their best start since 1918 was an exciting momentum builder. It kind of felt like a playoff game.

“I don’t know about that,” Kyle Hendricks said. “It’s still June. We have a ways to go. We faced them at home. It’s just two good teams facing off at this point. It’s good competition, really good baseball. We’ll enjoy these next two games.”

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Cubs Prove Formidable Foe Against Nationals

Chicago Cubs

That was a pretty impressive win last night as the Chicago Cubs narrowly beat the Washington Nationals 3-2. In fact, they’re still searching for Kris Bryant’s home run ball.

“I thought it was over the board,” Joe Maddon said. “It was really pummeled. That got everybody stirring a little bit.”

Addison Russell with the walk-off winner. Pretty darn awesome.

“Addison coming up huge — he was due for a big day today,” Kris Bryant said. “That was awesome to see that out of him. He’s only 21 years old. The kid’s going to be special.”

Another thing that was impressive was the play of Kyle Hendricks. The Professor coming off of a complete game pitched another great game. I tell ya, I can’t say enough about the kid. He seems like he came out of that corn field in Idaho with Shoeless Joe.

If the season were to end today, the Cubs would be in position for a Wild Card spot. Do you guys get the feeling that there’s a rivalry brewing against the Nationals? Man, those two teams are playing each other well and tonight’s matchup is shaping to be a pretty intense game with Jon Lester and Max Scherzer on the mounds.

“He throws a baseball and it looks like a whiffle ball from the side,” Maddon said. “It just moves so much. At that time [with the Tampa Bay Rays], I was hoping he’d stay in the National League. Now I’m wishing he was back in the American League. He’s got that kind of a free, funky delivery. I think it’s really hard to pick the ball up on him.”

Speaking of Wiffle Balls, our son Darcy picked up his uniform yesterday for Tee Ball with the games beginning next week. His shirt is orange and when the coach asked him what number he wanted to wear, well, he said #10. Folks, he doesn’t know who Ron Santo is but it kind of sent chills down the back of my neck because it was a poignant reminder about how good the game of baseball is. Now, I never met Ron Santo and my only experience of him was the broadcast booth like most of you. However, I can almost guarantee that Ron will be cheering on every kid this summer as they take their first swing and that someday, that kid just might hit that Wrigley Field scoreboard.

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If You Were The Cubs, What Would You Do?

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The Cubs have been rumoured of late to having an open wallet ruing this potentially game changing off season for the team. It’s been awhile since the club has made any kind of huge deal sending an all star to the team for a lot of money.

Wait, he just retired this week.

It’s going to be a long winter. I don’t even bother listening to weather reports. I check the Cubs news, baby. Are the Cubs going to land Russell Martin? They could and it would be a great signing for the club. Of course, starting pitching is a gaping hole that needs to get patched up before this club can do any damage in the playoffs.

It’s great to see that Tom Ricketts is on Theo’s side. I’m not entirely convinced that Russell Martin is the guy for the Cubs. Sure, he comes from my hometown, he’s good. Really damn good and would be an amazing asset to the team, but I also think Welington Castillo is doing a fine job behind the plate.

“We do have a lot of dry powder, and (Epstein) has a lot of flexibility this offseason. If there’s a free agent that comes up that makes sense, I’m sure he’ll be aggressive in trying to get there. “But obviously the problem is there are 29 other teams that would like to have new starting pitchers. There’s always that factor, and you have to be rational while you’re being aggressive.’’ Ricketts said.

They need to stick to pitching. If they land the right free agent, it’ll definitely solidify the rotation. Imagine a rotation with Hendricks, Wada, Arrietta, (Yes Edwin, you’re invited too) and a Scherzer, Hamels, Lester or Shields. That’s pretty darn impressive and can compete with the best of them. All right, but where does that leave Travis Wood?

Here’s my dream scenario and I’m just some poor schmuck fan boy freezing his butt off waiting for spring to come around.

Find a team that’ll take Edwin Jackson off the Cubs hands. It’ll be hard yes, but not impossible.

Keep Welington Castillo behind the plate as the starter. He made great leaps and strides last season and might get better.

Go after James Shields. Yes, I know Lester has a history with Epstein, I like you Theo, but until you’re wearing pinstripes and walking to the mound breaking another pitcher’s heart, Joe Maddon’s the boss.

The Cubs need Shields.

Believe it.

—Mark

Joe Maddon Roars

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Well, this is turning out to be an interesting week in the Windy City, doncha think? From new skipper Joe Maddon’s highly charged and optimistic press conference, to rumblings about Cole Hammel, Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, ah hell, pick your free agent pitcher and chances are the Cubs name has been attached to it.

First, let me set the record straight. I’m still a little bitter that Ricky was sent packing, but I fully understand that baseball is a business that requires a general manager to make the necessary decisions for a team to move forward. Or as Theo Epstein so eloquently put it:

“As a person, I didn’t want to do it,” Epstein said of dismissing Renteria. “I don’t want to ever be unfair to someone else. As an executive and someone in charge of winning a World Series here, I had no choice but to do it. It was clearly the right move for the Cubs. I wouldn’t be doing my job if we didn’t do make that decision.”

That’s all I’m going to say about that.

I like Joe Maddon. I like him a lot. He’s personable, engaging, witty,” 60 is the new forty” and thoughtful. C’mon, he bought a round of drinks at the Cubby Bear.

He’s also confident and rightfully so.

“I’m going to be talking playoffs next year,” Maddon said. “I’ll tell you that right now. I can’t go to Spring Training saying any other thing. Why would you report? It’s all about setting your standards, your goals high, because if you don’t, you might actually hit them, and that’s not a good thing. We’re going to set our standards high, absolutely. I’m going to talk playoffs, I’m going to talk World Series this year. I promise you. I am, and I’m going to believe it.”

Sure, he said all the “right” things in the press conference, but I challenge any other arm chair manager to do differently.

The Cubs need to be positive. With a manager like Joe Maddon, is there any other way?

So, who should the Cubs go after during the off season? I wouldn’t mind seeing Max Scherzer in the rotation. He would be a valuable asset to a young pitching squad. I also have a funny feeling that there’s a big year ahead for Kyle Hendricks.

What do you think?

Believe it.

—Mark

Adam Wainwright The Greatest Pitcher?

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Cubs fans will probably massacre me for this post, but here goes. Yesterday I was looking through some statistics and one of the great bar room questions is, “Who is the greatest pitcher in the game today?”

There are many great and fantastic pitchers in the game today. Everybody’s got their favourite pitcher and they could be right with their opinions. In this day and age with the advanced usage of Sabremetrics and other complex statistics, I’m basing my opinion on old school tactics.

Is it Clayton Kershaw? What about Stephen Strasburg, Cliff Lee, Max Sherzer(One of my favourites) Yu Darvish and Justin Verlander? All those guys are amazing throwers. What makes them the pitchers they are and what determines their greatness?

Is it WHIP’S What about WINS or STRIKOUTS and ERA’S. All these statistics have been used to determine a pitcher’s performance, but let’s go back to school, to the beginning and the basics.

The best way to determine “Who is the greatest pitcher?” is to look at plain old hard work and adversity.

My pick is St. Louis Cardinal ace Adam Wainwright. That’s right folks in Cub’s Nation. I said it and I stand by it. Saying that name comes close to a Yankee fan genuflecting before the World Series champion Boston Red Sox. However, you have to admit that it’s great giving credit where credit is due.

So, this is how I came to this decision:

Complete Games. Good old fashioned, slug it out complete games.

Adam led the league with five last year. He led the league in Innings Pitched. He also faced the most batters (TBF) He finished fifth with total pitches thrown. The most common statistic and probably best statistic that determines how great a pitcher is comes down to plain old WINS. Adam finished second to Matt Scherzer with 19.

That’s a hard working pitcher. Where did that hard working pitcher end up? The World Series. Runner up to the Cy Young. Sure they didn’t win, and believe me, there was a little bit of satisfaction that they didn’t, but giving credit where credit is due is what this post is all about. To me, the greatest pitcher in the game today is Adam Wainwright.

Agree with me or not, he’s a force to be reckoned with. If you’re into baseball fantasy pools then he’s the guy to pick up. A future Hall of Famer.

Believe it.

—Mark