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 Win, Now It’s Sweet Home Chicago!

Anthony Rizzo

Last night’s win was a must win situation for the Chicago Cubs and they delivered. The Cubs sent payback to Cleveland with a 5-1 victory and now head home to Wrigley Field for Game 3 on Friday. The series is tied and the next three are in Chicago. How sweet is that? On a night which saw Kris Bryant receive the Hank Aaron award, the Cubs delivered.

Jake Arrieta restored the order by pitching the longest no hit in a World Series since 1969 with 5 2/3rd innings of zero hits. Arrieta’s been seeking a new contract worth 150 million stretched through seven years. He’s going to make it tough on the Cubs but first things first, that’s a World Series ring.

“I knew I hadn’t given up a hit all the way to the sixth,” Arrieta said. “That’s really not the focus in a game like this. You really want to try to continue to pile up outs as often as you possibly can. Whether they get a hit or not really doesn’t affect the way you continue to approach that lineup, especially with a five-run lead.

“I wanted to stay aggressive and continue to allow these guys to put the ball in play on quality pitches in the bottom of the strike zone, and that was the mindset throughout, regardless of whether I gave up a hit or not.”

The first inning was beginning to look like game one’s struggles when Cleveland loaded the bases which led to the announcers suggesting that the addition of Willson Contreras over Miguel Montero, who’s backstopped Arrieta through the majority of the season, wasn’t the wisest decision by Joe Maddon. It got Arrieta out of his comfort zone but Contreras’ arm is stronger than Montero’s so he’d be more able to throw runners out at second.

Kyle Schwarber has pretty much shaken off any signs of rust,  but there’s one question that needs to be answered going back to Chicago for the next three games where National League rules will apply.

Where to put him?

He’s been in the designated hitter role but will Maddon stick him in the outfield or pinch hit? Does he give up Jason Heyward‘s defence for Schwarber’s offence? Tough decision which will be answered soon.

So the Cubs head back to Wrigley Field for Friday’s game three. Folks, there hasn’t been a World Series game on Wrigley Field soil in 71 years. The place will be packed and full of energy, we’ll see Bill Murray crying and one of baseball’s hallowed grounds just soaking it all in.

Game time is 7:30 eastern with Kyle Hendricks on the mound.

“It’s going to be incredibly special,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s the finest venue there is in professional sports, and maybe in all of sports.”

Believe it

 

Chicago Cubs. We Believe.

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs have been in this position before. A 3-2 NLCS series lead. That was thirteen years ago and we know the outcome. There was blame put on this poor guy so unjustly criticized for hoping to catch a souvenir, instead catching hell and shame.

Tonight is different. The Cubs have earned this right to be here. They finished the season with the best record in baseball, fought back from adversity in this NLCS and now they can entertain the thought of advancing to their first World Series appearance since 1945.

Baseball fans across the world will be tuned in tonight, holding their breaths, praying for hope. This game will beat you up, staying up well past bedtimes and coming into work as if you’ve caught the red eye from Los Angeles back home to Sweet Chicago.

Celebrities can crash White House briefings all they want declaring their love for Chicago’s North Side darlings but in the end, once 8PM eastern hits, it’ll be Kyle Hendricks on the mound in front of 48 000+ faithful who will have his back because baseball is a lonely game. There’s only one player on one base at one time. One batter facing one pitcher waiting for a 90MPH piece of rubber and leather to come hurling towards him like a planet expecting a meteor to change history.

2016 could go down as one of the strangest years in history. Donald Trump could be President of the United States of America and the Chicago Cubs might be World Series Champions. I’ll let you digest that for a moment.

“Don’t anyone tell you that it’s just a game.” few truer words have been sung. Yesterday morning I tried to wake my son up for school, he’s six years old and getting up at 7AM is hard sometimes when it doesn’t require cartoons and Shreddies. I whispered in his ear,

“The Cubs won.”

He raised one finger, his eyes still closed, “One win away.” then he went back to sleep.

Tonight, the Chicago Cubs can punch their tickets to the World Series. In order to do that they must play like kids. No pretence, no knowledge that the pitcher they’re facing is the best in the world. Pure sandlot ball. The belief that when that ball connects with maple, it’s going to go far. There’s no other pitcher I’d rather have on the mound than Kyle Hendricks. He’s earned the start.  He’ll need to go deep into the game allowing Aroldis Chapman to do his thing. That’s it.

You see, the Chicago Cubs have escalated into something more than a baseball team. If they win tonight and advance to the World Series, it’ll mean that everything we teach to our children will be true. If they believe in something, it’ll happen.

Wrigley Field is a place like no other. We all can’t be there tonight but for those who haven’t been there, like Vedder said, “I’m sorry for you” the smells of freshly cut grass, hot dogs and sticky beer. The sounds of Pop! as baseballs get tucked into gloves and the sun’s heat,  the comfort food of the soul.

Ernie Banks knew it. Ron Santo believed it. Eddie Vedder is right.

We’re going all the way

Tonight, “Let’s Play Two”

Believe it.

 

 

 

Cubs Get Attacked By Cardinals 10-4

Jason Hammel

The one thing that is certain about the Chicago Cubs 10-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals is that Jason Hammel has solidified the Cubs #5 spot in the rotation behind Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta , Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey. Not that it was any surprise, but his game has been out of whack lately.

“Honestly, I’d love to be a part of it, as the rest of the guys on the team would love to,” Hammel said of the postseason. “I know there’s only a certain amount of spots. If I’m handed the ball, I’m ready. Obviously, you want to be part of something special like that, but I think everybody here has been part of something special to get to this point. We’re all very proud. We still have eight regular-season ballgames left to build some momentum. Postseason, whether I’m on the roster or not, I’m still going to enjoy it.”

There was a bit of excitement when Dexter Fowler almost hit for the cycle. He was just a home run shy of doing the great achievement. In fact, there have only been 14 natural cycles in MLB history.

“Dexter is looking like he did in the first half,” Joe Maddon said. “That’s nice to see.”

Before the Cubs head out to the playoffs, the Cubs  will have another chance to be 100 winners at Wrigley Field tonight when Jon Lester will get the opportunity to be the hero in front of a nationally televised audience to strut his stuff  and if the Cubs win, they’ll set a franchise record at home for wins with 57 and the Cubs will win the season series against the Cardinals. Should the Cubs face the Cardinals in the post season?

“They would be very tough,” Maddon said of a potential playoff matchup. “They’re very good offensively. They can match up out of the bullpen. They do a lot of things.”

The Cardinals and the Cubs meeting in the playoffs again would be that fitting conclusion to a dream season for the North Siders.

Believe it.

 

Cubs Secure Home Field For NLDS!

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs seem to be turning back time in more ways than one. First, there’s the amazing season where the Cubs are looking more like they did in 1908 and now, David Ross chugging home off a hit by Jon Lester, a symbolic victory lap for the retiring catcher. Last night, the Cubs downed the Cincinnati Reds 6-1 in front of a packed Wrigley Field and Jon Lester was, well Jon Lester.

“This is the guy you were going to get when you signed him to the deal he signed,” said Cubs catcher David Ross, who scored on Lester’s double. “This was a guy that I know and I expected him to pitch like this. I think he expects to pitch like this. He’s pitching really well and it’s nice. It’s just one of many guys who are throwing good on the staff.”

If the Cubs win it all this season, Cubs President Theo Epstein is going to come off looking like a genius. Jon Lester will win the Cy Young award over Kyle Hendricks even though he trails the crafty “Professor” in ERA. Sure, Hendricks would be the sentimental favourite and I feel he deserves it more than Lester because everybody knows what Lester can do, he’s just good. However, what Hendricks has done this season is incredible and he has matured into a bona fide ace on the staff.

“Obviously Kyle has had an unbelievable year,” Lester said. “If I had a vote, he’d be my vote. Just because I get to see him every day. I get to see how he goes about it, how he prepares and executes. He’s my guy. That’s who I would vote for right now, tomorrow, the next day or whenever.”

Awe man, I just liked Lester that much more. He’s saying all the right things but for a guy to go out and be that good and still acknowledge what his teammate is doing, well that just says everything about who the Chicago Cubs are.

With the win, the Cubs have officially secured home field advantage for the NLDS after the Los Angeles Dodgers lost last night to the San Francisco Giants 2-0. I’m sure people are getting a little frustrated with me when I rattle off the stats on why this year is a special one. My friends and family sometimes roll their eyes at my excitement but all you guys know that this is a special season unlike any other. This is an historic one. Here’s a question that might be on the wrong side of hypothetical.

What if the Cubs won in 1945?

Would the magnitude be on the level that it is?

No matter how good the Cubs are, there’s still one more thing…

“If you ask anybody in that clubhouse, the MVPs, the Cy Youngs, the Rookie of the Years, all that stuff, it’s all great and dandy,” Lester said. “At the end of the day, we want to win a World Series. I think guys are kind of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel right now.”

Believe it.

Cubs Can Clinch Tonight At Wrigley Field

Jon Lester

One game and the Cubs can clinch their division. Yesterday, the Cubs defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in a 7-0 romp of their Central Division rivals. Jon Lester was incredible through eight shutout innings and Anthony Rizzo crushed two home runs to seal the deal.

“Everybody talked about [clinching] coming into St. Louis, and we had a chance,” Lester said. “We have to focus on the baseball side when we show up to play. Obviously, it’s right there in front of us. We have to try to win [Thursday].”

It would have been nice if Kyle Hendricks got the no hitter and it would have been amazingly poignant that the Cubs clinched their division in St. Louis but now they must settle against doing it versus the Milwaukee Brewers. At least it’ll be on home turf and the friendly folks down on Addison will rejoice and fill the streets with all the noise. We know that the Cubs are going to win the division unless catastrophe strikes, but what about finishing the regular season with the best record in baseball?

“I’m just worried about winning the division, and keep moving from there,” Maddon said. “If you win it, it’s easy. It’s beautiful, the prose is written, everybody’s wonderful, praise occurs. That’s one way. If it weren’t to occur, then it’s up to whomever wants to write whatever they want to write [and] what their perception is.”

The Cubs season is magical on so many levels. Even yesterday’s David Ross home run with he hit it farther then Anthony Rizzo at 429 is a monumental achievement of sorts.

“Can we get that in the paper somewhere?” Ross said. “[It was] 429, and I think I got it more than that. I’ll let [Rizzo] know.”

In the last of a long road trip, the Cubs head back to Wrigley to accomplish what hasn’t been done since 2008. They’ve got the one and two ERA leader on their team, 3rd place in wins with Lester and Jake Arrieta tied, second and fourth place pitchers in WHIP. They have the runs leader in Kris Bryant, and the National League wins leader in Arrieta. I mean holy crap, this is an historic team even if they don’t win that coveted trophy.

“I can imagine that for those people following us really closely, watching all the games, coming to a lot of games, that this is a sweet time for them to really enjoy the moment,” said first-year Cub Ben Zobrist, who mentioned that teammates talked in recent days of clinching on the Cardinals. “I think for the guys that have been here for a while and have endured some of the trouncings they’ve taken here in the past from the Cardinals, that might be sweet for some of those guys. But for the rest of us, it would be probably even sweeter to do it at home.”

Game time is 8:05 Eastern. The beer will be cold.

Hey Chicago, what do you say?

Believe it.

Cubs Get Embarrassed By Braves

Chicago Cubs

There’s no other team in baseball that’ll be glad for the All Star Break then the Chicago Cubs. They’ll be thankful for the much needed rest. Last night in a makeup game against the Atlanta Braves, the Cubs lost 4-3 in extra innings.

Some might say, “They played a hard fought game” or “It was close” but of course, they’d be fooling themselves into thinking the Cubs were in the game. They didn’t stand a chance against the Braves. The Cubs were down 2-0 until the 8th inning when both Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo got hit and took their respective bags. After Ben Zobrist connected with an RBI double and Willson Contreras lined a triple, the Cubs were back in business taking a 3-2 lead.

This is the Cubs remember?

Atlanta bounces back to tie it and send it into extra innings. Folks, there’s no way the Cubs should have lost that game. They’ve now lost three in a row and dropped 7 of their last 8. There’s certain teams you can’t lose to. The Reds, Braves and let’s throw in the A’s (Ok, let’s not say the A’s because I like them but you get what I mean.) There’s something terribly wrong with the Cubs right now. They’re not a bad team but the cracks in the cement at Wrigley Field are getting bigger and bigger, so much so that my mother’s back is getting sore.

It’s frustrating because Jason Hammel pitched extremely well but left the game in the 6th inning due to a hand problem. The Cubs are still the Cubs but I’m starting to think that maybe this mighty 2016 team hasn’t paid their dues just yet. They got off to an incredible start and it seemed like every other team has caught on to their dominance and figured them out.

“It was a tough game. We fought back and did the little things. We have to think about tomorrow now. This is in the past, it’s over. We have to think about Pittsburgh.” Willson Contreras said.

Well Willson, you should have blown out the Braves. You should have went in with the attitude of,”Welcome to Wrigley Field this is how we get things done now go back to hot freakin’ Atlanta you don’t belong on the same diamond as our amazing team”

The Cubs aren’t going to be thinking about Pittsburgh. They’re going to be thinking about the long ride and encouraging words from manager Joe Maddon. Hell, they might have a pyjama day on the plane and when they get to Pittsburgh there might be some magic tricks and some Lemurs to pet.

My family and I are making the trek down from our nook in Canada to Pittsburgh for Sunday’s game. We’ll be 20 rows back of third base. The slump will end.

Believe it.