Cubs Celebrate World Series With 5 Million Strong Parade

Wrigley Field

Every champion needs a championship parade. Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs proudly displayed the Commissioner’s Trophy to an estimated crowd of 5 million. From Anthony Rizzo’s heartfelt tribute to teammate David Ross to Joe Maddon’s updated T-Shirt “We Do Not Suck”, the river was dyed blue and a chorus of “Go Cubs Go” echoed throughout the crowd.

“I’ve been around baseball for a bit,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Never, never have I experienced anything like Wrigley Field on a nightly basis, never have I experienced anything like the conversations that I have with all of you when I run into you on the street. It’s different, it’s spectacular, it’s comfortable, it’s warm and it’s the way it should be. I want to congratulate the fans and thank you for being so patient.”

The amazing run the Cubs had during October 2016 will go down in history as one of the most thrilling and exciting playoffs ever played. It was truly a showcase for the game of baseball. The accolades and World Series fever will continue with an appearance tonight on Saturday Night Live. No word on which players will appear but rumours are that Will Ferrell will appear as Harry Carey.

Infamous fan Steve Bartman was a no show but that didn’t matter. In fact, I’m glad he wasn’t there. Not because his presence wouldn’t be welcomed, he probably would have been met with hugs, pats on the backs and maybe even shared the stage with the players. His absence represented a good bye of sorts to the not so great memories of Cub-dom. We now know there was never a curse on the North Siders. It was baseball rearing its ugly head sometimes in October.

“They say, ‘Mr. Ricketts, I’m 71 years old,”’ Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said. “‘Please win the World Series before I die.’ Now, I normally say something like, ‘OK, do you eat right? Do you take care of yourself? Do you exercise? How much time do I have?’ Well, for the thousands of people who have said that to me, and are still with us, there you go.”

As the victory sinks in( yes, I’m still numb from the win) I keep thinking of how important this championship means to a lot of people. I’m a relatively new fan compared to the die hards like Al Yellon from Bleed Cubbie Blue and all those folks born in Chicago who grew up skipping an odd day of school to watch them on WGN or go to Wrigley Field, that’s what’s so awesome about this victory. The look of relief on these folks’ faces is what it’s all about.

“The one thing that’s been proven true over time, in baseball and in life, is that human beings can accomplish more for others and for the group than they can for themselves,” Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein told the Grant Park crowd.

Cubs

As for the players, the last player introduced on the stage was David Ross. The grizzled veteran who is retiring this year was honoured by a tearful Anthony Rizzo. The respect given to the 39 year old “Grampa Ross” as he acknowledged the millions.

“He taught myself personally how to become a real winner,” said Rizzo, who then got choked up. “He’s like a brother to me. He’s taught me a lot in life on the field, off the field, how to be a better person. I’m forever grateful for him. He’s going out a champion forever. For the rest of his life, he can say, the last game he played in, he’s a world champion.”

1907, 1908, 2016

Believe it

Cubs Extend Epstein’s Contract

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates

Sep 28, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

What’s not to love about the Chicago Cubs right now? Their President Theo Epstein has just signed a 5 year contract extension, they have their most wins with 101 since 1910 and they finished first in all of baseball. Even the staunchest St. Louis Cardinals fan will be turning their heads and saying,”You know, the birds might not make October, but damn those Cubs are good!” All right, I might have went too far on that one.

Last night, the Cubs fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-4 and I think what set the tone was a little squabble between Jake Arrieta and the umpire, Chris Guccione. There were a few questionable phrases that went along with those questionable calls that might have rattled the beard of Arrieta.

“He got a little upset in the first inning, and I don’t know if that took him away from throwing a good game,” Miguel Montero said. “I really thought he had good stuff going on. I don’t know what happened. Did it feel like Spring Training? I do believe that, and that’s not a good feeling for a pitcher or a player, knowing you’re going to play four innings, five innings.”

Perhaps Joe Maddon was giving all of his players a rest last night but yeah, it felt like a different ballgame, not the usual fire that the Cubs bring to the park. The fire was burning for Arrieta after the game. He was mad and I could tell just by the way he stared down Guccione after the altercation in the first inning.

“I don’t think you know how hard this game is unless you play it,” Arrieta said. “I feel I can have another season like that. People have done it before. Why can’t I do it? I can do it again. So, yeah, I appreciate it. But at the same time, that’s what you strive for. That’s why you work hard. You go out and you try to perform that way.”

There was some good stuff that came out of the loss. Anthony Rizzo knocked his 32nd home run into the stands and there was an odd switch of positions between Rizzo and Ben Zobrist but last night felt odd for this normally dominant Chicago Cubs team.

I like the stability that the organization is bringing to the Cubs. Signing Theo Epstein to an extension sends a clear message that they want this roller coaster ride to continue. The Cubs have become the class of the major leagues and to think that before Epstein was there, baseball was still reticent to look at stats and numbers when drafting and signing players. Embrace the change, that’s what Epstein brings to the table.

“This has been a wonderful environment in which to work, in which to build, in which to make great new friends and stand shoulder to shoulder with some amazing people from the top to the bottom of the organization, as we try to accomplish something that has a lot of meaning to all of us in the organization. I’m thrilled with the decision, I’m thrilled with how things have gone.” Epstein said.

Believe it.

 

Cubs Celebrate Division Title

Miguel Montero

The man who struggled all season long and was in danger of missing out in October came through yesterday. Miguel Montero clobbered the ball in the 10th inning with a home run and give the Cubs a 5-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Then the party started.

“This is what we work for,” Montero said after spraying champagne in the clubhouse and dancing with his teammates. “A lot of people play for many years in the big leagues and never get that chance to experience something like that. It’s a great experience and great feeling. I’m proud of every single guy on the team.”

The Cubs officially clinched the National League Central Division yesterday in style. Everybody was talking about it being inevitable but for the Cubs to clinch this early is still a remarkable achievement. For the players, the Chicago Cubs hardworking staff who tirelessly work their butts off every game day to ensure that all of us fans have the ultimate experience at one of baseball’s most hallowed grounds, and us fans, it was pure bliss seeing the Flying W wrapped around the players in their celebratory photo shoot. Hell, Theo Epstein watched from the stands.

“Normally we’re in a suite and it’s very standard type of deal, where we’re watching the game and keeping an eye on things. To enjoy the real Wrigley Field and sit out there, feel the breeze, be among the fans, have a beer, it was wonderful. Even better than I thought it was going to be.” Epstein said.

Anyone who’s had the privilege of going to Wrigley Field agree with what he said. There’s a rumour going around that David Ross walked the neighbourhood after Thursday’s loss in search of the Giants/Cardinals game. When he found a spot to cool his jets with a beer, the bartender recognized him and proclaimed, “Shots all around!”

That’s what the Chicago Cubs have meant to the fans in Chicago and abroad. It’s been such a cool season and they can very well coast the rest of the way, but why should they? The next step is first overall.

In fact, it was extremely fitting that the Cubs won in that way. To come from behind and a walk off home run. That’s the Cubs’ way.

“The camaraderie, the chemistry, even hanging out outside the field, it’s really a close bunch of guys,” pitcher Kyle Hendricks said. “It’s a special group of guys. We have veteran leaders, and a lot of great young players who just put the work in. Humble guys, all they want to do is come to the ballpark and win.”

Come to the ballpark and win. That’s a great attitude and one that was very different a few years ago. It was a few years ago when the Cubs just wanted to compete with the best, but now it’s to win.

“This is unique,” Maddon said. “I’d heard it before — [a player told me] everybody should be a Cub at some point in their Major League existence if they had the opportunity. There’s nothing like it. … To play here under these circumstances, in this ballpark, with these fans is different in all the best ways.”

Believe it.

 

Cubs Have Some Serious Questions

Theo Epstein

The trade deadline is coming up and there’s been a lot of discussion involving Kyle Schwarber. I’m going on record to say that I hope the Cubs do not trade him. What happened to Kyle at the start of the season was unfortunate with his season ending injury but the team has endured.

“Kyle is a huge part of our personality and our culture,’’ Epstein told USA Today. “It wouldn’t be right to trade him.’’

Of course we know money talks and rightfully so that he shouldn’t be discussing any trade deals. My take on a possible Aroldis Chapman deal is that the Cubs should not go for him. Sure, he can throw a 105 MPH rocket but his off field drama would probably weigh too heavy on a young Cubs organization. His arm would be a huge asset to a struggling Bullpen but at what cost and he would more than likely be a rental player.

Bleed Cubbie Blue has an interesting scenario should the Cubs deal Schwarber, it involves Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer. It would work. The only reason the Cubs would trade Schwarber is due to his defensive abilities. He struggles a bit but nobody is disputing his plate approach, the kid has the tools.

The trade deadline is less than two weeks away and there are many questions to be answered. The Cubs have built up a lot of prospects that they have at their disposal should they be in the market to acquire some more firepower at the deadline.

“We also haven’t touched certain parts of our prospect inventory. That will keep us really viable for every opportunity that’s still out there between now and August 1. Sometimes you can be in an uncomfortable spot if you haven’t done anything and you’re sitting there July 31 – August 1 this year – waiting for a ‘yes’ or a ‘no.’ It’s hard not to throw that last player in just to get a deal done if you haven’t done anything. It’s something to fall back on. It gives you the ability to say ‘no’ or draw a line if you need to. But it also keeps all our opportunities open. The prospects we moved weren’t in any other deals that we were talking about. We haven’t touched the prospects that we were potentially going to move in some bigger deals that didn’t come to pass and may be resurrected in the future.” Epstein said.

Right now, the Cubs are looking at an easy schedule when they face the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago White Sox back to back. if they want to make up any ground and lay the foundation for October, this is the time to do it. Dexter Fowler should be back sometime this series.

“It’s important that they send a strong message to the team,” veteran catcher David Ross said. “You have to (with) a team that is in first place and was four wins away from going to the World Series last year. You’re looking at the big prize at the end of the season.”

Believe it

There’s No Hope For The Chicago Cubs

It might be a game about millionaires playing a child’s game, but there’s more to it than that. There’s more to it by watching the Chicago Cubs this year.

Baseball is like no other sport when it comes to history. I got to thinking about this while writing yesterday’s post. It transcends wars, famine and hate. It’s been there through the good times and the bad times of America and the world. It’s brought us heroes like Ted Williams and villains like Alex Rodriguez and just like every story includes conflict, it’s the underdog we love.

No underdog story is greater than the Chicago Cubs. They used to be a powerhouse, they used to be a dynasty and in the days of 1907, 1908, there was a poem written about the exploits at the time of baseball’s most fearsome team.

These are the saddest of possible words: “Tinker to Evers to Chance.” Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds, Tinker and Evers and Chance. Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble, Making a Giant hit into a double— Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble: “Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

a poem written by Franklin P. Adams of the New York Evening Mail about the fearsome play of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance.

Baseball is steeped in legend, lore and myths. From “Say it ain’t so, Joe” to Babe Ruth’s called shot.

It’s a magical game that keeps fans, critics and enthusiasts coming back for more. The Cubs have an opportunity to break the Curse of The Billy Goat this season. They can rewrite history with a Russell to Zobrist to Rizzo or Kyle Schwarber can call his shot into the stratosphere. Whichever way it’s going to go, 2016 is the year of the Cub.

Everywhere I go, people give me the thumbs up about the Cubs chances. Of course, this can all end in heartbreak as fans have seen before. This season is different. Theo Epstein, Joe Maddon and Jed Hoyer have built a squad rich in sabre metrics as well as carefully planned trades and drafts. This season Cubs fans don’t hope for a World Series championship.

“We picked up where we left off. What they mean is the tightness of the group and the feeling among the group and the fact that we can win, and we are winners.” Maddon said.

The Cubs start tomorrow as winners. If last season’s Championship Series showed us was that they’ve been there before, the young Cubs have a taste of it and they won’t let that slip through their claws again. Theo Epstein is the architect behind those Boston Red Sox teams.

No, the Cubs have no hope anymore. For once in a 108 years they–

Believe it.

 

 

Summer Dreaming, and Donald Trump a Cubs Fan?

Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant, Chicago Tribune

I’m always a little hesitant when expectations run high for a team heading into a season. I just think that it takes the fun out of it or perhaps, I’m still getting used to the Cubs being a really good team.

One thing I really hate about sports is contract talks. Take Jose Bautista’s situation in Toronto. The rumour is a 5 year/ $150 million dollar deal. I wouldn’t say that nobody is worth that kind of money. He’s a great player but contract talks before a season begins is dangerous because if he has a bad season then then that’s not going to bode well for him. On the other hand, he could have a monster of a year and all the better for him.

However, the way the Canadian dollar is moving, the Toronto Blue Jays had better prepare for a Joey Bats farewell tour.

Now, let’s talk about the Cubs.

This is the final year of Theo Epstein’s contract with the Cubs. Will he get an extension  or will he bring his magic to another team?

“Your payroll, more so than any other time in history, doesn’t determine how many wins you’ll have,” Owner Tom Ricketts said. “It’s not about how much you spend, but how much talent you put on the field and how they perform.

“Whether the payroll is [$150 million] or [$105 million], what happens on the field is what matters. The players on the field determine if you’re going to win.”

Which is corporate speak for, “Wait and see.”

Now, I’m not going to get involved in the American political landscape because well, I’m Canadian and that’s really not my place but Donald Trump sent out a Tweet the other day

“I hear the Rickets family, who own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending $’s against me. They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!” Trump said.

I don’t pretend to know what that means but Tom Ricketts responded with,

“It’s a little surreal when Donald Trump threatens your mom, whether it’s my mom or my dad on his ending spending stuff, or my sister on marriage equality, or my brothers and what they do, or what we do with the team, we’re pretty much an open book. We stand up for what we believe in, we support the causes we think are important, and that’s what America should be. That’s who we are.”

Baseball and politics shall never meet.

Next week we begin again. MLB.TV has updated their schedule and I’m excited if you’ve never subscribed to it, I highly recommend it. I don’t know where I’d be without it.

“I look at Spring Training as a continuation of last year and smelling the grass and all that — it’s going to be fun,” Kris Bryant said. “We’re not putting any pressure on ourselves. It’s just another year where we have some new guys in the clubhouse, and we’re all looking forward to the season and having some fun with it.”

Believe it.

 

A Long Warm Winter For Chicago Cubs

Starlin Castro

I have to admit, it’s going to be an awfully long winter. Sure, El Nino predicts it’s going to be an unusually warm off season and that will help with the baseball starved fans around North America but for Chicago Cubs fans it’s going to be long. The World Series has barely thrown out the first pitch and suddenly there’s rumblings of David Price heading to the North Side. Whether or not that happens, the bottom line is the Cubs need one more pitcher for 2016. In a three game series during the year, every team needs three “Lights Out” starters in their rotation. The Cubs have two.

“I would love to have our entire position group back,” Theo Epstein said the day after the season ended. “I think the competition is good, the depth is great, the redundancy is important, and it’s a significant competitive advantage to have a solution at the ready if something goes wrong. It’s a competitive advantage to make out a lineup tailored for that night’s opposing pitcher. It’s a huge advantage.”

In today’s baseball, that rarely happens. Suddenly, Kyle Schwarber’s name has been tossed around as potential trade bait in order to land that big pitching acquisition. What? Trade the guy who brought you to the post season? He practically carried the team on his back until the New York Mets showed up.

No, the one player that should and will likely be missing in 2016 is Starlin Castro. Sure, he put on the afterburners in the final months but the Cubs have Javier Baez and Addison Russell in the mix. For every good month Starlin has, there’s four months of futility for the veteran shortstop.

The Cubs need that third pitcher to bolster the rotation. Whether that’s David Price, Jordan Zimmermann or James Shields, it’s that one last piece to the championship.

“The lesson to be learned here now is that they’ve learned how to win this season,” Joe Maddon said. “They’ve learned how to win at the Major League level. They were participating in the playoffs, with only four teams left, which is pretty impressive at their point of development. For me, at this point, it’s been one big positive.”

We couldn’t wait for the 2015 season to get here, well now that we know what these Chicago Cubs can do, maybe El Nino should be their third pitcher.

Believe it.