Ricky Renteria is Outstanding

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I really thought that this was going to be a quiet off season. You know, get ready for Christmas, enjoying Thanksgiving(to my American friends) but suddenly it’s like the season never ended and the onslaught of Cubs news coming through.

It’s official.

Joe Maddon in. Ricky Renteria out.

There. As those words words spew from my fingertips, I still have mixed emotions. It is true that in Theo Epstein’s statement, “Rick deserved to come back for another season” This is true and yet, there wasn’t any other way to put the series of events down in another way. Theo Epstein and the organization did a great job in handling the awkward situation.

Monday is a new beginning.

In the manager’s circle there are three managers that any club would pursue in a heartbeat. Bruce Bochy, Buck Showalter and of course, Joe Maddon. It’s hard to dispute and I’m sure that people have their favourites, but my pick is definitely Joe Maddon.

There’s no question Rick will find work elsewhere. He’s got a growing reputation around the MLB and way back at the start of the season, I wrote that the Cubs were in good hands with Ricky.  So did the players.

“I believe he did a wonderful job with the circumstances he was presented with this past season,” pitcher Carlos Villanueva said Friday. “It is very hard to be evaluated after only one season managing, especially when your two best starters are traded away midseason.

Let’s face it, as much as Ricky Renteria improved the clubhouse and the record, the Cubs still did have their difficulties and growing pains, but he was well respected in the clubhouse, with the players and us, the fans.

In a way, Ricky did the job. Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo turned into the marquee players that the organization wanted them to be. That is very good.

“He helped make them All-Stars along the way and did all that was asked of him and more,” Villanueva said. “There are things that happen that only the people who are in the clubhouse at times know of, but with all the challenges Renteria faced, he did great. Whoever gets him will have an outstanding baseball man.”

Believe it.

—Mark

Happy Joe Madden Day Going Back To The Future

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Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants, their fans and all those hard working people within the organization who helped bring another championship to the Bay Area. Well deserved!

To you, the Kansas City Royals for providing Cubs fans like me to join in with the excitement you brought to the 2014 MLB Post Season. You fought hard, you played well, but most of all you believed.  I love baseball!!!

100 to 1 shot I tell ya. I wish I could back to the beginning of the season, and bet some money on the Cubbies.“—Terry to Marty McFly

That was from Back To The Future 2 where the Chicago Cubs defeated Miami on October 21 2015 to win the World Series.

Thank you @MCorcoran15 for giving me the reminder.

Now, as we hold our breath at the inevitable signing of Joe Maddon and the hash tags galore of #HappyJoeMaddonDay litter our twitter feeds, will that prediction come true?

Will the signing of Joe Maddon deliver a World Series championship to the long suffering fans in the Windy City?

Maybe.

As Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer do Damage Control over a potentially ugly situation with Ricky Renteria, I have to say that I’m warming up to the fact of Joe Maddon presiding in the dugout.

Where will Ricky Renteria end up? Is this a mid life crisis for Theo Epstein dumping Renteria for the hot thing down the road?

Is it ethical for Joe Maddon to pursue the Cubs like a homewrecker? Or as some MLB Insiders calling a “Classless Act”

After careful mulling, I’ve decided it’s not as dirty pool as some might think. It’s business. Ricky Renteria is doing a fine job(as of this posting, there’s no word yet) but he should understand that in the best interest with the organization, they should hire the best manager.

I’d bet there’s a photo of Joe beside Ricky’s family at his desk. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if Tampa Bay hires Renteria.

Not one bit.

So, let us rejoice in #HappyJoeMaddenDay

Believe it,

Mark

“Let’s Root, Root Root For The Cubbies!”

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It’s a bittersweet moment this time of year. Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs finished the year with a win over the Milwaukee Brewers 5-2. Most importantly though, they won with the fans.

The offseason will be filled with renovations, roster moves and renewed hopes for 2015. Did the Cubs live up to expectations in 2014? Yes. Fans said good-bye to fan favourites Darwin Barney and Jeff Samardzija but ushered in with high expectations Javier Baez and Kyle Hendricks. Suddenly, even the passing Cubs fan is taking notice on how good this team is looking.

First year manager Rick Renteria brought a renewed excitement for the game that wasn’t always there under the tenure of Dale Sveum  or Mike Quade. Admit it, you couldn’t help but smile every time Rick got tossed out. One thing is for sure, next season will be Rick’s team. You can see it all ready taking shape with the return to form Starlin Castro and the “Yes, I just hit 32 home runs” Anthony Rizzo who quietly became the Cubs leader in the locker room.

“It takes a lot of work and we have a very tough division and teams aren’t going anywhere in it, it’s only getting better,” Rizzo said. “That’s our expectation, that’s the message we want to send.”

So there you have it. The Cubs are sending the right message to critics and fans alike. In fact, it’s poignant that the Cubs did win on the last game of the season. Could it be foreshadowing? Could it be a sign of the dismal Brewers and the tough road they have? Or could it be that the 2014 Cubs proved something to us that we take notice.

Today, the Cubs clean out their dressing rooms and say good bye to their teammates and friends. Us fans applaud them on a season well done and wait through what the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting to be another brutal winter. We wait for spring to be eternal again. We wait to hear the Opening Day roster and we wait for the seventh inning stretch when some celebrity sings,”Cause it’s one, two three strikes you’re out—”

Well we know what we’re waiting for.

Believe it.

—Mark

PS: This Canuck Cubbie won’t be hibernating. Stay tuned.

The Duke Wins It For Cubs

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How great is it to record a walk off against your rivals? Just ask Welington Castillo about that. Castillo hit one in the tenth to send as the Cubs beat their nemesis St Louis Cardinals 4-3.

But that’s not all. He also hit a two run homer in the second inning. Yes folks, that’s how great it is.

“That pitch — thank God for ‘Welly’ for winning that ballgame because I was not going to be able to live with that one,” Kyle Hendricks said. “I think [the count] was 2-2 [to Holliday], and I was trying to pitch around him. If I walk him, I walk him. I know that, that’s my mindset, and we talked about that in the [pregame] meeting.

Let me tell you folks, Kyle Hendricks is going to be one exciting player to see next year. I only wish the season started next week.

Wait, it does start next week.

With the last home game of the season tonight, the Cubs will try to finish the year above .500 at home. Is that a huge accomplishment? You better believe it. The Cubs are looking for momentum going into the off season. There might be some changes in personnel but I think only minor ones. Did you catch that double entendre? Minor ones?

It’s been a long time since fans were this excited at this time of the year for next year to get started. There’s hope in the dugout. Faith in the bullpen and trust with the managers.

Now, that’s something to believe in.

“Everybody thrives on the fan base, every team does, and we’re finally giving them a little bit of something to cheer for, and it’s nice to hear them when we do come through,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said.

Believe it.

—Mark

Cubs Say Good Bye To Day Games For The Year

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The Cubs were outmatched in yesterday’s defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers. This time next year? There might be a different outcome but yesterday the Dodgers peppered the 5-11 Jacob Turner in front of the last day crowd of the season at Wrigley Field. Final score 8-5

The difficulty with losses like these to playoff contending teams is that some teams are shutting it down while others are using it as batting practice.

“They’re trying to clinch a division, and we’re trying to show everybody who we are,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “I think all things being equal, we fell behind early in a few games and we kept coming back and fighting. I think our guys are showing a little bit of heart and just fell short.”

Well, heart won’t get you wins. I like this time of year because it gives me the chance to sit back and admire the other teams like the Dodgers. The underachieving club with the highest payroll and the competitive manager, Don Mattingly. The team that just can’t quite take the next step towards a successful playoff run. Could it be this year?

When guys like Matt Kemp make home runs look like tee offs, ask Turner.

“It just shows that you have to execute,” Turner said. “There were times when I was able to, especially in the fourth and fifth innings, I felt a little better. The two-run home run to Kemp in the third was a fastball trying to go away, and it caught too much of the plate. In the first inning, the two-out hit by Hanley Ramirez was a breaking ball that stayed up a little bit.”

For the fans of the Cubs, it was bittersweet to bid adieu to another season at Wrigley Field. At least for the day games. However, rest assured that the series against the Cardinals is going to be an exciting finale to another year at the Friendly Confines before the Cubs’ eventual return to the post season next year.

Believe it.

—Mark

Cubs Boost The Dodgers Ego

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Let’s be honest with ourselves, the Los Angeles Dodgers aren’t exactly the same as the Cincinnati Reds. The Dodgers have a higher payroll and they have Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

Last night, what seemed like the Chicago Cubs might have taken the game away from the mighty western team, Logan Watkins made a crucial mistake in the seventh inning and then well, everything went wrong from there. The Cubs lost 8-4

“Uribe hit a pretty hard ball, right up the middle, and the first instinct was to knock it down and keep it in front of me, and it kicked to the left,” Watkins said. Which is fair enough Logan, but your first instinct should have been to try and catch it. However, it is what it is and that’s why the Dodgers are as good as they are.

Chris Coghlan made a great catch near the wall, proving that he’s becoming that great player.

So you see, it wasn’t all that horrific. In fact, I’ve been preaching that this year has been more of an audition to the now much hyped season where the young kids will shine. Just like Neil Ramirez getting lit up last night.

At this point in the season, we’re going easy on the kids because

A) The season’s almost done.

B) The year’s been a success. Rick Renteria has proven he can guide the youth movement into the future.

“They know they have to make those plays,” Renteria said. “The last thing I need to do is pounce on [Watkins]. … He wants to make those plays, and I’m sure he’ll tell you that he should’ve made those plays. The next time, hopefully, he will make those plays.”

Believe it.

—Mark

Cubs Get Tripled Up

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The Cubs are seeing triple. Wow, it’s amazing what the Cubs can’t do when three of their best players are away for a variety of reasons. The Cubs hit into their first triple play since 2000 against Montreal. Wow! it’s almost poetic to think about it in that way.

“I thought I was going to beat the throw,” Szczur said. “It was close. I put a good swing on it and tried to get out of the box as fast as I could. Wrong time to hit it hard, that’s for sure.”

As God is my witness, I thought turkeys can fly.

And as the mythic proportions the game of baseball can take on, the Cubs couldn’t gain ground after that.

“I don’t allow our guys to put their heads down,” Rick Renteria said. “That’s just a play that happened. We were still in the lead. That’s baseball.”

Yeah Rick, but it’s also baseball when two all stars aren’t playing and you’re left juggling the lineup with a handful of rookies. Don’t worry, I’m on your side but the holes showed.

Speaking of that, should Rizzo and Castro return? I don’t think there’s any point left in them coming back to the lineup. We know that Starlin wants to play a few games before the end of the season, but resting up for next season to be a hundred percent is the better option in my opinion.

2015 is going to be a great year.

Believe it.

—Mark