Cubs Get Stung By Rays

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There’s a problem with a media circus surrounding young talent when they come up into the leagues. Now, I’m not saying the hype had anything to do at all with the Tampa Bay Rays shutting out the Cubs 4-0 but I feel sometimes that especially around a guy like Javier Baez it had to have got to him.

Every little move he makes like despite striking out got a double and then everyone remembers that one double he made. If it were any other player he would have just stunk in that game.

“He wants to prove to the whole world that he belongs here,” Rick Renteria said of Baez. “It’s part of the conversations are that, ‘You don’t have to carry the team on your back, you just have to be yourself. You have a lot of teammates.’ I think he’ll continue to make adjustments and I think he’ll be fine.”

Renteria is right, he’s got teammates. There’s Arismendy Alcantara with the great glove yesterday. Oh wait, what about Justin Ruggiano who went 1 for 2 and is a steady player on the team’s roster. Although I haven’t mentioned Chris Coghlan much, he’s had an impact on the club.

So please folks, even though it’s easy to get caught up in the Baez circus, I know I have, let’s remember the other guys.

Speaking of other guys, I feel bad for Edwin Jackson. He had a quality start yesterday and yet, the Cubs fell. I think the Cubs are going to try and buy out his contract at the end of the season or perhaps, someone like the Yankees could pick it up.

Today is throwback day. Let’s remember the 80’s, or let’s not. Should be a great game.

Believe it,
—Mark

Cubs Give Tanaka A Perfect Ending

New York Yankees at Chicago Cubs

Did anyone check the temperature in Hell lately? Because it went down a few degrees last night. Yup, the Chicago Cubs defeated the New York Yankees 6-1 It was the first of the last two games Derek Jeter will play at Wrigley Field, the end to Masahiro Tanaka’s perfect season and a great game for potential rookie of the year honours to Mike Olt.

“We’re looking at playing our opponents, and when we step between the lines, there are big names out there,” Rick Renteria said. “Guys come up and they’re in awe — but I want these guys to see that’s a shortstop, that’s a second baseman, that’s a first baseman, that’s a third baseman [on the Yankees]. We know what they can do, what they can’t do. We have to play our best game against their best game, and see where it falls.”

Yeah, last night all the cylinders were firing for the Chicago Cubs. Mike Olt threw out Derek Jeter with a rocket from third and even fittingly, in a rain drenched Wrigley Field, the mighty Derek Jeter grounded out in the ninth. The last at bat of the game. It was that awesome. Plus, the stellar work of Jason Hammel who is turning into an ace by not giving up a home run in 31 innings.

Prior to the game, Starlin Castro gave Jeter the number two from the scoreboard, “That’s all right we don’t usually get more runs than that.” Just kidding. And Ernie Banks got his photo opp with the man.

“I like the history of the game,” Jeter said. “Obviously, we get spoiled at home, the size of the clubhouse and all the amenities that are in the stadium. I’m a baseball historian, so I appreciate the fact that there’s a lot of history that comes along with this ballpark. I’m happy that I get an opportunity to be here.”

And then the Cubs go on to ruin the party. So, the Cubs are now sitting nine games back and are on a three game winning streak with Jeff Samardzija set to take to the mound today. He’s looking for his first win of the season and has the best ERA in the majors. Can the Cubs strike lightning twice? It would be very sweet to have Tanaka lose his first and Samardzija get his first win of the season.

Only in Wrigleyville. The ivy still looks great!

—Mark

Yankee Doodle Came To Town

It’s kind of funny that the ivy is almost in full. The Cubs are slowly chugging away up the standings, sitting eleven games back and today they face their arch nemesis on the mound, Masahiro Tanaka. Yes, the New York Yankees are in town and with all the fanfare surrounding Derek Jeter’s elongated retirement party(Whatever happened to just having a press conference and saying, “I’m done.”) it should be a great series.

Wham Bam combination of Starlin Castro, Mike Olt and Anthony Rizzo are going to have their hands full with the surprising Yankees. Jason Hammel gets the ball in the first game of this two game series.

Will there be drama today? Will Theo Epstein be sitting anxiously somewhere away from the bleacher creatures biting his finger nails thinking about what could have been at Wrigley Field? Or will the Cubs prevail victorious over the Bronx Bombers and proving that there really is a plan to this one hundred plus years of a drought that some day soon could end.

Well, at least the Ivy looks pretty.

–Mark

Mother’s Stand By Their Cubs

Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves

No offense, but the Cubs were anything but yesterday. The good news is it was Mother’s Day so no matter what the box score looked like, at least their Moms still love them.

Naw, I’m just kidding. I hate the Atlanta Braves. Believe it or not, I like the Yankees and the Cardinals more than I like the Atlanta Braves. So, it comes with great disgust to see the Braves beat up on the struggling Cubs. Really. It. Does.

There’s going to be good days, but there’s going to be even worse days for the Northsiders and yesterday was one of those days.

Edwin Jackson had a great outing and it’s awesome to see that since last year’s travesty of a season. Maybe that’s too harsh of a word, but for the Cubs, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

“Are these guys the final product? No. That’s my answer,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “These players are not the final product. There’s a lot of skill in these guys and they’re just not completely there yet. They’re chipping away.

Well, I don’t completely agree with Renteria there. Yeah, he’s got a point but did he just give his players a vote of confidence or did he just throw them under the bus? I’d be asking for my walking papers if a manager told me that. “Don’t worry, Mark’s not the final product.” I’d feel a lot less better about myself. Great managing Rick.

All right, all right I know what you mean, but guys like Mike Olt, Anthony Rizzo, the much improved Starlin Castro, Emilio Bonifacio and I can name a whole bunch of other guys who work their tails off. The players know it sucks not winning games. Do the Cubs need Bryant, Soler and Baez? You better believe it, but the guys playing now are the guys who have the potential to perhaps, now don’t lynch me here, but gain a wild card spot.

Don’t toss em’ under that bus, Rick. Be their manager, encourage them. Believe in them when everyone else doesn’t.

Yesterday, we went out to a ballpark and hit the balls around. My three year old son Darcy, was crouched down like Castillo with his glove covering his face. Sure he was playing shortstop like his favourite guy Starlin Castro but I cringed every time he tried to catch the ball without wearing a mask. When he took his turn at bat, I told him to swing like Starlin. He knew who he was. He stared me down when I tossed him the ball and he screamed when he missed.

Why? Because Darcy believed he will hit that ball.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. Even though they lost, Mom’s will always believe in their Cubs.

—Mark

Tanaka, The One That Got Away.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at New York Yankees

I have a theory about everything that went wrong with yesterday’s double header in New York:

The Cubs are saving the Yankees for their return gig at Wrigley Field next month. Yup, that’s what I’m sticking too.

So, in the first game of the double header, the Cubs watched in awe at the one that got away in the form of Masahiro Tanaka, that Japanese ace the Cubs almost signed in the offseason. He struck out ten over eight innings, that’s pretty darn good if you ask me.

“He threw well,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “His split had tremendous dive. He can elevate to change your eye level. He can work both sides of the plate.”

The Cubs had a great chance in the seventh inning off an Anthony Rizzo bunt that put two on with nobody out but Schierholtz sent one up the gut that bounced off Tanaka’s glove. The play went under review and he was out at first.

Was it a lesson on how good the Yankees can be with Tanaka or just how much the Cubs still have to learn this season.

The truth is that the inexperienced Cubs didn’t stand a chance against the Yankees. Anthony Rizzo had a pretty good day, but the more I see Nate Schierholtz, the more I think he’s not the same player he was last year.

The Cubs have a day off before facing the Reds tomorrow at Wrigley Field. It’s not going to be an easy one either for the Cubs.

“I don’t want to say that has anything to do with it,” Renteria said of the conditions and timing. “The reality is both teams play in it. [On] the off-days, we still worked, we still got in here and were able to hit. Today, they took batting practice on the field. No, we just weren’t able to put anything together.”

—Mark

Could Darwin Barney and Nate Schierholtz Be On The Move?

Nate Schierholtz, Darwin Barney

I have to admit that I am truly disappointed in the trade of Trevor Gretzky to the Los Angeles Angels for Matt Scioscia. It’s not that it’s a big deal, but folks; it’s a huge deal to me. You see, that name is huge in Canada. Very huge. That name is beside a record 50 goals in 39 games. That’s how big that name is. I am of course, talking about the Great One, Wayne Gretzky. Trevor’s old man.

The thought of wearing a Cubs jersey with Gretzky 99 on the back excited me. It was a connection to my youth and a nod to the future. Wayne Gretzky won four Stanley Cups and I hoped that Trevor would hold up that World Series trophy for the Cubs. Do you realise how many more Cubs fans there would be in Canada? Blue Jays who? Trevor come back, please come back!

There, I’ve said my peace.

There are rumblings in the Cubs camp about a possible trade of Darwin Barney and Nate Schierholtz This would be a very good deal for the Cubs. Don’t get me wrong, I think Barney and Schierholtz are really good players and class acts, but given Barney’s struggles at the plate and Javier Baez’s potential at playing second base, this would be a great move for the team. Nate Schierholtz had a great season last year and his trade value increased tremendously.

Really, I’m salivating at the thought of a Mike Olt, Starlin Castro, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo infield. Now, the Cubs need some pitching to cement their rotation. On paper, this is the Cubs weakness for the future. They’re a long ways away from rotations in Washington, St.Louis and Detroit. Those are championship calibre teams and dangling Darwin and Nate in front of possible suitors would be the next step for the emerging club.

So forget about dealing Jeff Samardzija. He’s not the problem and neither is Travis Wood. The Cubs tried to get Masahiro Tanaka, tried desperately to put him in the rotation, but those damn Yankees proved just a little more appealing to the Japanese flame thrower.

Think about it. Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and the Ricketts have some money to throw around if they were willing to chase Tanaka. They’re just waiting for the right opportunity to land that high profile ace when one comes around. Remember? Forget Committed, patience is the word in the Cubs organization.

Imagine when Jorge Soler, Albert Almora and Kris Bryant get the call. it’s going to be one heck of a lineup. The Cubs are up to something and a deal that would send Darwin Barney and Nate Schierholtz off to another club, I feel is the final piece to something very special.

Believe it.

—Mark