The Cubs have to get back to the basics. If yesterday’s 12-6 debacle at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates was any indicator that change is on the horizon, then Cubs first baseman and All Star Anthony Rizzo is right.
“It’s impossible to boat race the whole season like we were doing,” Rizzo said. “We just have to clean up our pitching a little. We’re walking too many guys, and that’s not the formula. We’ve had a formula of playing good baseball and we don’t have it right now.”
Then again, that’s only part of the problem. If they’ve been playing good baseball, then what is the problem? Sure, Anthony Rizzo was the best player at the park yesterday but he’s only one guy. A home run short of the cycle, but he’s only one player.
“We got off to such a wonderful start. You’d take this kind of lead going into the break any day of the week. [The recent struggles have] just happened, and there are reasons why it’s happened. You don’t lament those reasons, you deal with it, and keep going out and playing hard like we did and eventually we’ll get back on a nice streak.” Manager Joe Maddon said.
People have often accused me of being optimistic, but Maddon is the eternal optimist. Yeah, they’ve got to go into each game and play hard. The good news is that today is the last day before the All Star break. This is the midseason and the Cubs shouldn’t be thinking about the 1927 Yankees or the 2001 Seattle Mariners( even though we know how they turned out). No, once the season picks up after the break, the Cubs have to start realizing that it’s going to take some knuckle down grind it out baseball. It’s time now for Maddon to get creative once again, mix up the batting order or move those runners. Hell, I’d even move Kyle Hendricks up in the rotation. The fact is that Cubs fans know this team is good. This is the year that it’s World Series or bust. If the team doesn’t make the World Series, it’ll be a failure of epic proportions. Theo Epstein promised Chicagoans there would be no more “Lovable Losers” it’s the “Cubs Way” or the highway.
“The end goal is to be as good as we can at the end of the year. These times here test you and make you better as a team to withstand some adversity later on in the year. It’s a learning process. These 162 games, it’s a grind, it’s a roller coaster, and you go through some ups and downs. Right now, we’re kind of at a point where we’re not playing so great. But I think we’re going to get better from this.” Catcher David Ross said.
As I sit in a Quality Inn not too far off from Pittsburgh in a town called Cranberry PA waiting for my wife and son to get up so we can get this show on the road, I’m excited to bring our enthusiasm and optimism to the team and hope that maybe just maybe, the Cubs might take one from the Pirates and go into the break on a high note.
Game time is 1:35pm. John Lackey takes the mound.