Cubs Stay Up All Night

Wrigley Field

In trying to gain internship into the Bryzzo Souvenir Company Kyle Schwarber leapt into the crowd to attempt a thrilling catch and give Anthony Rizzo a run for his Rizzo Wrap prize. That was just one of many thrilling plays in the epic 18 inning marathon heartbreaker which resulted in a 5-4 loss for the Chicago Cubs.

“How about that play? It was very Derek-esque [Jeter],” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I’m just worried about him hitting the wall. That’s all I was worried about. Of course, you’d like to see the guy make the play, but you also want to see him walk back to his position. Tremendous play.”

It was a tremendous play but in the end, the Yankees ended up with the sweep. Another thrilling moment occurred when Javier Baez fouled a ball off of his foot. It looked like he was in a lot of pain but then the amazing happened and next pitch he sent it into the bleachers to tie up the game in the third inning.

The ballgame set an MLB record with 48 combined strikeouts, for the uninitiated, that’s a lot. Yet, despite the game which rivalled the World Series Game 7 thriller, it’s worrisome to think that the Cubs are struggling so much this season. After last season, the club looks mortal. Sure, their bullpen has settled into a nice groove but where’s the dominance that was so prevalent in their historic 2016 season?

“A crazy game. It would have been nice to have won it. We lost two crazy games against these guys on this homestand. What are you going to do, man? Just move it forward.” Maddon said.

They have nothing left to do but move forward. The Cubs sent the game into extra innings in the ninth against Aroldis Chapman. It gives me a little satisfaction to see that after all the negativity after last fall’s classic.

“To come back and get those [runs] against Aroldis, bully for us,” Maddon said. “That was some really great at-bats right there culminating in a hit by pitch. That’s not easy to do, to get three runs against that fella under these circumstances.”

It’s easy to say, “Let’s move forward” or put whatever other spin the team puts on it but the truth is that the team is struggling. They’re keeping their heads a float and for the most part it’s great they’re getting this slump out of the way now but I have this nagging feeling that the chances of a repeat are going to prove very difficult.

Believe it

 

 

 

Cubs Treat Castro Like a Starlin

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs were one out away from winning the ballgame. It was a game celebrating the contributions of Starlin Castro and the presentation of the rings to Aroldis Chapman and Adam Warren but like I said, the Cubs were one out away from sealing the deal. Instead, the Cubs lost in the ninth to the Yankees 3-2 off a home run by Brett Gardner.

“We were short in the bullpen,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That was [Rondon’s] game. From the side, it looked like really good stuff. It’s an unfortunate choice where he threw it. That’s probably the only pitch that Gardner could’ve hit out, and we gave it to him, and that’s what happens in our game sometimes. Otherwise, I thought he had a good fastball and made some good pitches.”

If there ever was a game that got away from the Cubs, it was yesterday afternoon’s heartbreaker. Kyle Hendricks pitched a beauty of a game going scoreless after five innings. It was the kind of game Hendricks needed in order to get back on track after a slow April lowering his ERA to 3.51

On the other side of the ball, Jason Heyward turned a couple of double plays in the first inning and the sixth inning. Heyward is one of the elite players in the league with the glove.

“You try to do what you can,” Heyward said. “You try to be in the right spot at the right time, and expect the worst out there.”

But the day belonged to Starlin Castro. A standing ovation and a chance to honour the shortstop that ushered in the new generation of Cubs players. Sure, he might not have won the World Series with the club, but his contributions (sometimes gaffes) cannot be denied.

“I think it’s a really emotional day for me to come back here, to play against the team that gave me my first opportunity to be a baseball player,” Castro said. “I feel happy to get here and compete against them.”

Castro has blossomed with the Yankees. That makes me feel good because I remember that home run he got at his first At Bat all those years ago. He’s a true example of a player that just didn’t fit into a team’s plans.

“I’m a big Starlin fan and really enjoyed our time together,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I was really impressed with him based on how he was so accountable. I love that in any player, any human being. When we took him out of the shortstop role without any specifics, he didn’t cry, didn’t blame anybody.”

Not putting the blame on anybody has put Starlin Castro in a tie with Mike Trout for most hits in the American League.

Believe it

 

Cubs Never Quit

#ThatsCub

With their tenth come from behind victory of the season in a 5-4 13th inning thriller at Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs may not win over a hundred games this season, but their resiliency is charging a path through the league. Albert Almora Jr. whacked a double in the extra innings and then ran home when Phillies Freddy Galvis committed an error.

“When Szczur hit the ground ball, you have in the back of your head, like, what if something happens?” Almora said. “He could beat it out and if the first baseman’s not paying attention, I could score. It was in the back of my head.”

It wasn’t just Almora but Miguel Montero hit a clutch home run in the eighth inning to tie the game.

“I hit the ball good, but the wind was really weird,” Montero said. “I didn’t know what to expect and next thing I know, the ball is in the basket. Basket — amazing basket when I hit, but when I’m catching, I hate it. As soon as the ball hit the basket, I slowed down. I never thought I had a chance to hit it out. I got lucky.”

The Cubs got lucky the whole game. How long can they maintain these come from behind victories? It seems to be working for them now but in the dog days of summer, it’s going to be a different story altogether. Injuries will happen and teams will adjust.

This weekend marks the New York Yankees return to Wrigley Field. It is therefore fitting that the “Love them or hate them” duo of Aroldis Chapman and Starlin Castro will make their return to the Friendly Confines. It’s also fitting that the duo play for the much maligned Yankees.

Listen, I like Starlin Castro. He was my son’s favourite player for the longest time. I remember watching the game and when my son was playing something around the house and Castro would hit one of his memorable home runs, I would yell and my son would come running from wherever he was playing. Castro just didn’t fit into the Cubs plans and that happens. I’m glad he hitched onto the Yankees. By The Way, my son likes the Yankees now.

“I can’t wait to go over there and hear from the fans the first time they announce me,” said Castro.

Aroldis Chapman is another entity unto himself. The hard throwing hurler may not be the nicest individual off of the field and Cubs fans, myself included, took exception to his off field incident which is unacceptable behaviour. That being said, when the Cubs honour him with his championship ring it will be well deserved. He delivered on the field for the team and should be honoured appropriately for it.

On the subject of Chapman, I want to applaud the efforts by the Canadian Football League recently in their handling of Justin Cox. In a statement issued by the CFL,  Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge implemented zero tolerance on domestic violence for Cox. This is a tremendous stance and a first for a professional sports league.

Well done,

Believe it

Cubs Blame Yankees For April Woes

Chicago Cubs

I guess the Chicago Cubs are learning first hand the problems associated with winning a championship. Every team wants it. Yesterday, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Cubs 6-1 and took the series. It was their first series win since 2014 at Wrigley Field.

Despite the Cubs taking a 1-0 lead into the seventh inning or Jon Lester getting a goose egg for seven innings(On Easter Sunday, no less!). So, the Cubs are 6-6 this April. Whether it’s a World Series hangover, or other teams have caught on to the Cubs’ weaknesses, but the team has started 2017 in a mediocre way.

“We had some good games, we’ve played a lot of close games. We taxed our bullpen quite a bit, which we really don’t want to do. Our starters pitched really well but late in the game, we didn’t score enough runs to give our bullpen any breathing room. I think that falls on the offence.” Ben Zobrist said.

On the other hand, it could be the absence of their grandfatherly figure in David Ross. He caught all of Lester’s games while providing a spark and spark in the clubhouse. Then again, it could be the problem of holding leads and wearing down their bullpen.

“That’s been more of our problem than anything, not getting a clutch hit and holding a lead at the end of the game,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

There isn’t really any cause for concern this early in the season. This is roughly the same team that won the hardware last fall. However, missing Dexter Fowler has had a bigger impact than they thought. I mean Fowler’s struggling with the Cardinals right now. Now that’s an interesting theory on a curse placed on the Cardinals when they do business with the Redbirds.

‘‘Last year was kind of a fairy-tale year for us. It’s not always going to be like that, so it’s important to kind of realize that early on, so that we’re not hitting that panic button like we did around the All-Star break last year.’’ NL MVP Kris Bryant.

True, it’s not always going to be like that and I fault us Cubs fans for the pressure of the expectation for greatness. I mean, C’mon, after a 108 years would you expect anything less? Cubs fans have a lot of catching up to do. After the Cubs won, a friend of mine congratulated me on their win but continued to say that they need 23 more championships to catch up to his beloved New York Yankees.

There’s the real reason behind the Cubs early futility. Blame the Yankees. After all, it wouldn’t be the Cubs way to just blame it on the bullpen, blown leads and missed opportunities. It’s almost as if a new curse has been placed on the North Siders. A curse by a Yankees fan.

‘‘We won the World Series last year, so there will be questions, but that’s just natural,’’ Jake Arrieta said. ‘‘That comes with the territory. It’s a business of results, and we still expect really good results from the group we have this year.’’

Believe it

 

 

Russell Rattles Reds in Cubs Home Opener

Addison Russell

Chalk another Opening Day into the history books. The Chicago Cubs came from behind to demolish the Cincinnati Reds with a score of 5-3 and Cubs fans across the States and Canada including Cubs fanatic Raymond Monckton from Toronto rejoiced in the team’s first Opening Day victory in five years.

The Cubs almost resembled the Mudville Nine if it weren’t for the with inning heroics of budding superstar Addison Russell  sent a torpedo  leather wrapped sphere into the crowd for a souvenir.  After the three run home run, the Cubs went up 5-3 and never looked back.

#NeverLookBack

Yeah, I kind of like that for this season.

“I was just smiling, and trying to soak it in as much as I could, and trying to round the bases slow,” Russell said. “My heart was beating a lot. Once I stepped on the plate, it was an awesome feeling to see Jorge Soler and Ben Zobrist there. It was a great game for all of us tonight.”

What was just as impressive as the game was the crowd. It was playoff atmosphere clinging to every play and every foul tip.

Deafening.

Rightfully so. The fans have waited a long time for the Cubs to be this dominant. They know the players and wouldn’t settle for any mediocrity. No way. It is arguable that this is the most anticipated Cubs season in history.

The festivities were poignant after tributes to departed teammate Starlin Castro who was traded to the New York Yankees such as Anthony Rizzo deciding to use his walk up music “Ando en la Versace” by Omega much to the delight of the 40 000 fans.

“He’s been part of this organization for a long time,” Rizzo said. “He taught me a lot, how to be a big leaguer. Trading him was tough for a lot of us. To get the crowd excited like that was pretty cool.”

There was also standing ovation for Kyle Schwarber as he was introduced. He had a season ending injury so it was fitting that the team place his home run ball from last year’s NLDS  back on top of the Bud Board.

But the night was Russell’s. For this 22 year old to hit an Opening Night home run and undeniably christen the 2016 Major League Baseball season at Wrigley Field was nothing short of spectacular.

“To be able to take a walk, power a ball into the left-field stands, his whole game is going to keep improving because he’s strong and he cares and he works pretty hard,” Joe Maddon said. “Just appreciate that he’s only 22 and what he’s doing now.”

Then it’s only fitting that this 22 year old shine so bright in the hyped season of the Chicago Cubs.

Believe it.

 

Kris Bryant, Addison Russel and Javier Baez sent down.

Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs, baseball

Kris Bryant has to wait a little longer.

There’s a consensus going around that not everyone is excited about the “demotion” of Kris Bryant. I’m in that camp myself and feel his output this spring was exceptional and worthy of a spot on the Opening Day roster. He led the majors this spring in home runs. Does that not qualify?

Yes.

But whatever the reasons, it was a club decision.

“I could be in this game for a long time and not send down three players that talented on the same day ever again,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Monday. “Those three are pretty good.”

Along with Bryant, Javier Baez and Addison Russell were sent down. Let’s face it, Javier didn’t look good this spring. There are few people who would disagree that Baez needed plate discipline if he wants to play in the majors, but he needs more work.

As for Addison Russell, well, he just needs more playing time.

“Everybody is conscious of it,” New York Yankees lefty reliever Andrew Miller said, via Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. “Hey, we have a chance to make a lot of money in this game, but the rules are the rules. If that works in the Cubs favor, and the Cubs are a better team for that, they’re entitled to (use the rule to their favor). We negotiated that. It’s the reality of what our collective bargaining agreement says.”

And there you have it. It’s purely a financial thing and to tell you the truth, I would have done the very same thing had I been in Epstein’s shoes.

I mentioned in previous posts about the Cubs having good problems and this is an example of those problems. The team has too much depth.

“Today is a bad day for baseball,” the MLBPA said. “I think we all know that even if Kris Bryant were a combination of the greatest players to play our game, and perhaps he will be before it’s all said and done, the Cubs still would have made the decision they made today. This decision, and other similar decisions made by clubs will be addressed in litigation, bargaining or both.”

But wait you say, Perhaps if this were twenty years ago would the Cubs have made the same decision?

Who knows.

“The only thing Kris did to contribute to the story was play really well, and that’s what we want our players to do,” Epstein said. “No hard feelings at all. Scott was doing his job for his player. He’s an agent, so he has a right to choose how he wants to get his point across. I can just control what I can control.”

Believe it.

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

A Cubs Fan In Manhattan

My wife and I just got back from New York seeing that awesome play, Hedwig and The Angry Inch. I’ve been out of the loop, so I was kind of relieved that the game yesterday was rained out. I didn’t miss anything. While we were in the Big Apple amidst Yankee Nation, I had a few cat calls wearing my Cubs gear in Time Square.

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We froze on the tour bus. Canadian or not, it was a frigid night on the rooftop of the Grey Line.

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We stopped in at a sandwich shop and the guy at the counter congratulated Wrigley on their 100th birthday. That was really nice of the Yankee fan.

Atlanta Braves were in town but we didn’t have time to check out the game but passed the stadium. Awesome!

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Neil Patrick Harris nailed the show. An incredible performance with awesome music and just announced today, eight Tony Nominations. Well deserved!

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That’s the back of Josh Grobin. Katy Perry was there, but we didn’t see her.

If you get the chance to see the show, go! You won’t be disappointed.

—Mark

Cubs Plan On Mauling Yankees In Double Header

The Cubs will play as Ernie Banks famously said, “Let’s play two.” today. They will celebrate Jackie Robinson today. Call them what you will, I’ve got a few choice words for those maligned Yankees, but they deserve the respect and admiration as being the class organization that they are.

Jason Hammell will get the ball in the first game and Travis Wood goes tonight. Right now, the Cubs sit last place in the Central but don’t let that fool anyone because the Cubs have shown some resilience in the young season. Guys like, Bonifacio, Rizzo and Castro have all played extremely well considering the circumstances. Coach Renteria has shown that he’ll stand up for the players by calling for the replays and challenges even going so far as to get tossed out of the game at one point.

Are the Yankees going to be tough?

“They’re a perennial powerhouse and find a way to win, and the organization is committed to their players. That’s how they do it,” Hammel said. “That being said, there’s still a way to beat them. I’ve faced them many times and had some success. You just have to keep the ball down there.”

The two clubs aren’t that much different in their record. The Cubs are 4-8 while the Yankees are sitting with a record of 7-6

—Mark

Adam Wainwright The Greatest Pitcher?

New+York+Mets+v+St+Louis+Cardinals+2wpwMRHKe0Hl

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