Wada Win For Cubs

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Yesterday was, perhaps a turning point in the future of the Cubs. Darwin Barney is now an LA Dodger and most likely going to have his first shot at a post season. This is baseball, right? Anything can happen.

The Cubs soundly beat the Colorado Rockies in a suspenseful game if you include that eighth inning bases loaded Anthony Rizzo at the plate kind of nail biter. Of course there wasn’t a grand slam, I mean this is the Cubs right? for a brief moment, the friendly folks at Wrigley almost witnessed a chance at immortality for their young captain.

Tsuyoshi Wada collected his first win as the Cubs beat the Rockies 4-1 and earning his first win.

“I appreciate that the Cubs used me again after that outing I had [against San Diego], which wasn’t very good,” Wada said “My command was definitely better than last time, and it’s the second time I pitched in Chicago, so I was a little more relaxed. The last time I was more excited and anxious about that game.”

The Cubs have virtually no chance at a post season, but stranger things have happened to this club. With the Dodgers signing Barney and the deadline fast approaching, who should the Cubs deal? Is it Nate Schierholtz or send Junior Lake down? Schierholtz is on a bit of a hot streak lately, but I think he’s good trade bait.

“When you have players who are working together over time, continuity does seem to help,” manager Rick Renteria said. “You can’t guarantee that change won’t occur after the Trade Deadline. I wish I could tell you that I have a crystal ball and I know exactly what’s going to happen, but I don’t.

All right Ricky, I’m going to tell look into my crystal ball and see what’s going to happen.

I see a lot of smoke. I see a face. A big C on a shirt. Bonif, oh no wait…

Baez.

The ball is cloudy, I see no more.

Believe it.
—Mark

Cubs Almost Clawed Out A Victory Against Cardinals

St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs

In what is supposed to be the Hall of Fame Weekend where generations upon generations enjoy the magic and whimsical wonder of a Nation’s pastime, the Cubs seemed in a nostalgic mood against the Cardinals. One day after a spectacular win, the Cubs decided to give a Hall Of Fame worthy loss 6-3. Was it the jitters of seeing AJ Perzynski in the division red?

“I’ve faced him several times in the past, and he’s had quite a bit of success against me,” Jake Arrieta said of Pierzynski, who is now 6-for-8 against him. “He’s a veteran hitter and knows what he’s doing up there. … He’ll be big for the team, especially with Yadi gone. It’s a good pickup on their part because he’s been around for a long time.”

And so the end result wasn’t exactly the outcome the Cubs were hoping for but Arrieta had a quality start. He fought back and went six innings. You see? even in a loss there’s always some sparkling good things for fans to see.

“That performance is indicative of how much he’s grown,” Rick Renteria said. “If that had been a couple years ago, and he was struggling, he wouldn’t be able to grind through and pitch six innings without his best command or stuff. Today he did.”

Jake Arrieta could very well be that pitcher who’ll lead the pitching staff to the playoffs real soon. They kept it close, but sometimes the games can run away from a team.

Maybe Nate Schierholtz wants to remain a Cub? He homered. It could be his last ditch attempt at saying, “Hey guys, don’t trade me. Last year wasn’t a fluke. The old Nate’s back.”

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

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 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