Chicago Cubs Defending World Series Champions

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It’s hard to believe that over two months ago, the Chicago Cubs became 2016 World Series Champions. It seems so long ago and yet like it happened yesterday.

For the longest time I wanted to distance myself from the Chicago Cubs. Perhaps it was just to wallow in the warm glow of being champions or it could be the unspeakable fear of them reaching that height which has alluded them for so long, now what can a Cubs fan do?

They’ve won the big prize, they’re no longer lovable losers or curse laden wannabes.

The Chicago Cubs are champions. In 2017, they’re defending World Series Champions.

Say that again my friends, say it out loud (preferably in a room without anyone, we don’t want to jinx anything).

The real test for these Cubs is how they’re going to be lovable winners?

“There’s no more history we have to worry about, no more goats, none of that stuff,” Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said. “It’s all looking forward. With continued success, we’ll make that ‘C’ into a symbol of winning and not a symbol of not winning, like it was.”

That’s so true. It used to be that people would come up to me and almost feel sorry for me but I tell ya that during that World Series run, I had so many phone calls. Everyone watched it and it felt different. Usually people jump on the band wagons to cheer for a team when their own team didn’t make. That’s normal, but when people cheered for the Cubs, you could tell that deep down there were a lot of Cubs fans. People could like the Red Sox but a part of them likes the Cubs. That’s why the 2016 World Series felt different.

Besides, guys like Anthony Rizzo, David Ross and Kris Bryant captured the imagination of fans everywhere. In a way, they brought baseball back to where it should be. Last fall, it wasn’t about contracts, free agency or other monetary deals; it was about the game.

From David Ross’s home run in game 7 to Bryant to Rizzo’s final out, the look on Bryant’s face said it all.

Elation.

Anthony Rizzo tucked that ball in his pocket to secure the memory.

“You kind of think you know what it would mean to people, but you really can’t know how much it means to so many people until you get there. It’s really been overwhelming. I don’t know how else to put it. It’s something that meant so much to so many people. I’m glad we could be here for it and be a little part of it.” Ricketts said.

Oh yeah, it’ll come again. They could be the first to repeat since the Yankees in the 90’s.

Baseball is unlike any other professional sport. It begins in spring. Hope springs eternal. New life, new dreams and new beginnings. It’s a game played with the utmost simplicity.

“You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball” Crash Davis Bull Durham

One of my greatest memories was from last year’s series against the Pirates before the All Star Break. We were at the game and watching Carl Edwards Jr throwing rockets during the warm up, my son turns to me and says, “Daddy, I want to be a pitcher.”

That’s baseball.

Believe it.

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

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Chicago Cubs Saved Baseball

I hate parades. I loved them when I was a kid but to me, parades represent standing in cold weather watching paper mache` floats and well, freezing my butt off. Truthfully, I don’t really know why I’m not a big fan of parades. For the one that will happen today in Chicago at 9amCT, I wish I were there for this one. All the information you’ll need is right here.

The Chicago Cubs Won the World Series. The ultimate prize in baseball was won by the ultimate “losers” and people love the story but what happens now? What goal do Cubs fans chase now? Has anyone prepared for this day? I know I need some down time and a trip to Cooperstown to meditate in those hallowed halls with my family and enjoy the moment.

What happens next year? The perennial underdogs aren’t underdogs anymore. Fans won’t have anything to complain about and the Cubs will have other teams trying to take the title away.

Baseball has changed now. The Cubs winning the World Series represents a shift in the way people view America’s pastime. No more is it like watching paint dry, as some folks compare it to. Really though, I hate painting perhaps that’s why I love baseball. This Cubs team was a centre stage for the game. People tuned in everywhere and fans north of the border switched their allegiance to the Toronto Blue Jays over to the Cubs. Will baseball experience a renaissance?

This is a new beginning for the Cubs, their fans and baseball. The epic World Series showcased all that was right about the game and for many, a chance and a moment to believe in something that once was thought unattainable.

I’d love to see a dynasty again. I want the Cubs to be the team to beat. Parity is overrated. Some players won’t be back. Dexter Fowler will be shopping for a new home but for the core, they’ll be back. If we thought this year was nuts, there’s one thing that Cubs fans know to be true; they’ve lived it and breathed it  for years.

Wait until next year.

Believe it

 

 

 

 

 

Holy Cow! The Chicago Cubs Are 2016 World Series Champions!

Chicago Cubs

I have to apologize to my friends, my family and to my co-workers. Yet, I’m dedicating this win to them at the same time because they have endured the same heartache, pain and suffering as every Chicago Cubs fan that’s ever lived, breathed and experienced the tumultuous relationship that Cubs fans have had with their beloved North Siders. To my wife, I love you. It’s been an amazing ride.

Now that it’s done with;

The Chicago Cubs are 2016 World Series Champions!

In what will go down as one of the greatest Game 7 World Series ever played and in true Chicago Cubs way, an 8-7 victory was almost lost and kept fans on their feet until the wee hours of the morning. There’s no point in questioning Joe Maddon’s decision to pull Kyle Hendricks in the 5th inning now. What’s the use in crying about inserting a tired, beaten and used up Aroldis Chapman with four outs to go. No, there’s no use arguing the manager of the Cubs.

“When I pitch this much, especially this many days in a row, that’s what happens to me,” Chapman said through Cubs interpreter Matthew Moreno. “My velocity always goes down.”

You see, I still believe that Kyle Hendricks could have pitched another inning and have put this Cubs fan to bed much earlier than the 1pm clock striking warning that occurred. For me, it was David Ross’s home run that was the high point of the night. Gramps Rossy delivered in his final game of his career and made his teammates believe. His home run was a tribute to Ernie Banks and Ron Santo, the two tried and true North Siders that never wavered, never faltered in their undying loyalty to these Cubs that tested their faith and yet, in their lifetime never saw a championship. You believed. Harry Carey, Holy Cow!!!!

“It was like a heavyweight fight, man,” said Ben Zobrist, who was named World Series MVP. “Just blow for blow, everybody playing their heart out. The Indians never gave up either, and I can’t believe we’re finally standing, after 108 years, finally able to hoist the trophy.”

It doesn’t matter that some of the players won’t be returning in the spring. Their paycheques will be stamped with services rendered and they’ll move on. However, that warm November night in 2016 will be etched in their memories for years to come. This is the reason they chose baseball as their profession. An end to a supposed curse. A reason to believe, and a dream to come true.

Thank you Chicago Cubs, for making this fan believe in the impossible. Thank you Cubs for keeping me up well past my bedtime. Thank you for making me write over 1000 posts. I will be talking about The Game for days to come but for now, enjoy it.

“I’m just so happy for Cubs fans over the last 108 years, generations, some still here, some not. They were all here tonight. Everybody who’s ever put on a Cub uniform, this is for you. It took a group of unbelievable men, connected with each other, never quitting. Everyone’s prone to hyperbole, but tonight, it was kind of epic, right? It was the way it had to happen.” Cubs President Theo Epstein.

Let’s do it again 2017. Let’s play two,

Believe it

 

Cubs Force Game 7. Tonight, One Drought Will End

World Series

The Chicago Cubs accomplished the near impossible in their 9-3 demolishing of the Cleveland Indians to force a game 7 tonight. They came back from a 3-1 series hole to tie it. When young Addison Russell hit his grand slam, the packed Cleveland crowd fell silent and suddenly, the hearts of Cubs players beat a little faster. In fact, Russell became the second youngest player in the history of the game to hit a grand slam in a World Series. Geez, they have stats on everything.

“I think tomorrow we’re going to come to the clubhouse with a lot of confidence and a lot of energy,” Russell said. “Game 7, it’s a kid’s dream.”

Tonight, one team will hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy. Tonight, the Chicago Cubs have the chance to end the longest championship drought in sports history. It’ll be one of the most watched sporting events in the history of broadcast television.

No pressure.

Joe Maddon’s decision to move Kyle Schwarber to the number 2 position proved to be the difference in the game. It provided a cushion for Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to do their Bryzzo things. They did. Each got a solo home run and the Cubs never looked back.

The head scratching began when Maddon made the call to the pen in the seventh for Aroldis Chapman. Why would he call Chapman with the Cubs having such a huge lead?

“I mean, seventh inning there because they came up, the middle of the batting order was coming up — Lindor, Napoli, Ramirez possibly — all that stuff,” Maddon said. “So I thought the game could have been lost right there if we did not take care of it properly.”

So here we are Game 7 tonight. This is the night that every Cubs fan has been waiting for. It’s fitting that Kyle Schwarber will bat probably second. It’s stunning and thrilling that Aroldis Chapman has pitched more than he has in such a long time. He might be tired, he might not. Is he ready?

“One hundred percent,” Chapman said through Cubs translator Mateo Moreno. “Last game? Of course, yes. I’m ready for whatever he asks me. I don’t recall [throwing so many pitches]. It’s only mental. It’s the seventh game, the reason they brought me here.”

Kyle Hendricks gets the start. My favourite player in baseball’s most important game. Baseball’s ERA leader for the season and NLCS hero over the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw has an opportunity to go into the history books. It’s fitting it should end this way. Whether the Chicago Cubs win or lose tonight makes no difference. They fought back in the World Series to be at this point. Underdogs to the end. That’s the Chicago Cubs way.

“Anybody who plays this game grows up dreaming of winning a World Series,” Kris Bryant said. “You know, we get to play in a Game 7. That’s pretty special.”

We get to watch the Chicago Cubs play in a game 7, that’s pretty special too.

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Chicago Cubs Staring History In The Face

Chicago Cubs

Tonight’s game in Cleveland is poignant in many ways. The Chicago Cubs are down in the World Series 3-2. They’re underdogs. Despite having the best record in baseball all season, the Cubs at this point in the season are true underdogs; and they like it.

Yesterday, I pointed out which teams were the ones that came back in their series to go on and win but today, I’m going to tell you exactly how the Chicago Cubs are going to win. Yes, I said win. I am a Cubs fan and even if they lose, they’ll still win.

Why?

There’s always next year.

It would have been nice to win it at Wrigley Field. The Cubs were tied in the series. All they had to do was go back to Wrigley and win three straight. BOOM! done History has been rewritten, Bill Murray gives Joe Maddon the biggest hug he’s ever had and becomes the celebrity spokesman for Kleenex.

Things aren’t that simple in Wrigleyville. Here we are in game 6 at Progressive Field in Cleveland a day after all spirits rose to walk the earth, including curses and dead goats. Tonight, the Cubs have their reigning Cy Young winner on the mound. Who better to stare down batters a day after Halloween than Mr. Fear The Beard himself, Jake Arrieta.

“We know if we lose we go home,” Arrieta said. “We’ve won three in a row many times this year, even more than that.”

Forget about tomorrow, the Cubs concentrate on tonight and get the job done. They know what they have to do. There’s no speech Joe Maddon could give that the players don’t all ready know in the back of their heads.

“Getting back to Cleveland with Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks rested and Kyle Schwarber back in the lineup presents itself differently,” Maddon said. “I think everything changes at that point.”

This is how it’s going to play out. There’ll be no shutouts, no hitters or perfect games. Arrieta’s pitch count will be between 85 to 90 before handing the ball over to Aroldis Chapman. You see, there won’t be an opportunity for set ups because Arrieta will be focused and his pitches will be controlled. He will go 8 1/2 innings of lock down baseball. There you have it.

Under strange circumstances, Schwarber was made for this series. At Progressive Field the Cubs will look to his bat for guidance.

“I don’t know there’s anybody in the league that can do that,” Ben Zobrist said. “It’s really, really difficult to wake up and get out of bed after six months … and be a great hitter like he is.”

Yes, Schwarber will be the home run kid tonight. The bats will be out tonight after been woken up on halloween. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo will contribute and lead this team where no other Chicago Cubs team has been in over 100 years.

“It’ll be nice — especially there,” Anthony Rizzo said of getting Schwarber’s left-handed bat back. “It’s a shorter porch to right. It’ll be warmer. He’ll have good at-bats and he’ll be ready for them.”

Believe it.

 

Cubs Force Game Six in Thrilling Win

Wrigley Field

There’s no denying that Joe Maddon is baseball’s most creative manager out there, but last night at Wrigley Field, with the Chicago Cubs down 3-1 in the series, he pulled the most creative stunt to date; Aroldis Chapman‘s entry into the seventh inning. The creativity worked. Eight outs later, and the Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians 3-2 and force a game 6 in Cleveland.

“That was our best opportunity,” Maddon explained. “I thought right now, based on the bullpen usage recently, he’s actually kind of fresh. He hasn’t been overused in the last part of this season nor throughout the playoffs. So, again, with him, like a lot of relief pitchers, late-inning relief pitchers, you want to talk in advance of the moment. We did. So he was definitely aware of what may happen tonight.”

I’ve always thought of Chapman as a three out pitcher as we’ve witnessed earlier in the postseason. He has a tendency to get into trouble if he’s stretched out for at least six outs.

“I always appreciate it if they let me know that I’m going to pitch more than the ninth inning,” Chapman said. “I physically prepared myself to come in as early as possible.”

The Cubs are facing elimination. It sucks, but there’s no use in sugar coating it. The big bats have to come out and in the fourth inning they did. Kris Bryant led off with a home run and the faithful at Wrigley roared. Anthony Rizzo didn’t want to be out done by his Cub  brother and connected with a double one At Bat later. Addison Russell launched a single and then, in his final Wrigley Field appearance, David Ross sacrificed a fly ball in order to get the  three runs in. Jon Lester was brilliant through six innings.

“It’s a grind,” said Lester, who threw 90 pitches allowing two runs and four hits while walking none and striking out five. “I mean, that’s what postseason … that’s what makes it fun at the same time.”

That’s what they pay him the big bucks for.

“There’s not a crazy sense of urgency, but certainly we want to get some runs there so that they’re not going to go to [Andrew] Miller and Allen with the lead,” Bryant said. “For me, I wasn’t going out there trying to hit a homer or anything like that. It was, ‘Have a good at-bat,’ and it’s nice that it went over the fence. Obviously, I haven’t been swinging the bat too great, but it was nice to kind of get one to kind of help us all out.”

So there you have it. The Cubs are sort of back in the series, although I’m hesitant to say that facing elimination. They go back to Cleveland tomorrow with Jake Arrieta on the mound and the DH rule in effect. I think normally this wouldn’t fare in the Cubs favour but with the way Kyle Schwarber‘s been swinging, it could be the series changer. The Cubs were down in their series against Los Angeles and look how that turned out?  The Cubs are in good shape. They’re two wins away and I’m confident that if they win Tuesday, they’ve got the series.

“From an entertainment perspective, if you’re a baseball fan or looking to become a baseball fan, it was wonderful tonight, outstanding. But I like to believe we’re going to catch or gain some momentum from this game going back over there.”

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