Welcome Home, Chicago Cubs

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There was a huge difference in the attendance between the White Sox and the Cubs home opener. The noticeably empty seats at the White Sox(ok, ok, it snowed and was cold) compared to the 40 000 + soaking up the sweet cold air at Wrigley Field to cheer on their North Side heroes. The good news is they played a game, the bad news is they lost 8-5 to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Javier Baez kicked off Opening Day in style with two home runs. Along with Ben Zobrist, the two have quickly become the players to watch this season.

“To be honest, I was trying to hit the ball on the barrel and not get jammed because of the weather,” Baez said. “I stayed short to the ball. The second at-bat [in the fifth], I came back to the old at-bats against him. He got me, but I got him back again.”

The Cubs are playing .500 ball so far and that won’t sit too well in most fans books, I mean you can make all the excuses in the world but excuses won’t change the score. The Cubs have missed opportunities and yeah, Anthony Rizzo is injured for a bit but there’s plenty more baseball to come. I’m just happy Opening Day arrived and baseball is officially back at Wrigley Field.

“I felt I had really good stuff today and they were able to foul it off rather than get weak contact outs or something, so they did a good job of that,” Tyler Chatwood said. “They’re hot right now. It seemed like whenever they put the ball in play, good things happened for them. You’ve got to be able to get out of that.”

He’s right about that. Pittsburgh is playing extremely well and could give the Cubs a run for the National League Central title.

“We didn’t play badly,” Joe Maddon said. “They hit the ball well today. They’re swinging the bats really well right now this early in the season, so you have to give them credit.”

So, I think it’ll take some juggling the lineup, warm weather and a healthy lineup to change the Cubs’ course. .500 ball isn’t bad, but then again in a season where the Blue Jays are 8-2, the Cubs record isn’t all that great.  Last season, the team kicked it up a notch in the second half, but we know that they ran out of gas in the playoffs. Maybe it’s just the optimist in me but I think the Cubs will be just fine. Once they get their swing, it’ll be lights out. Nobody said they were going to win over 100 games this season.

Baseball’s back!

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Cubs Postpone Opener, White Sox Did Not

Snowy home opening day at Wrigley

Well that was the strangest Cubs home opener that I can remember. We booked the time off work to watch the big game only to realize that the game was being delayed by an hour. No big deal, Mary Beth went out for a few groceries and we’d be set.

Wrong.

She sent me a text to say that she read that the snow was too much and they’d cancel the game until today. Here’s the kicker;

The White Sox played. What?

“On the way out [to the ballpark], I had no idea if I was going to the Cubs Convention or Opening Day, so I think it was the right thing to do,” Chicago manager Joe Maddon said of the postponement. “I woke up and saw everything going on, and you look at the [weather] map and you look at Tuesday being an open day and a much better forecast and I thought it would be a prudent thing and we did it.”

Of course today would be a much better day. The day we have to go back to work. I’m not mad, just frustrated.

“I’m glad it was them and not me,” said Bossard (The Sodfather), who communicated with Spillman throughout Monday morning. “Justin Spillman is one of the better young groundskeepers in baseball and used the water procedure too. But if you have more than two inches of snow, you’re not going to be able to do it. They made the right call. They had more snow.”

It’s an 11 mile difference, right?

“What snow? We’re from Chicago, where the hell is the snow?” Cubs fan Anita Lopez said. “If the South Side can play ball, the North Side should play ball; there’s no crying in baseball.”

Hey, we had our Opening Day celebration despite watching a White Sox game.

Anyways, today is the Cubs Home Opener, Anthony Rizzo is on the disabled list and I’ll miss it all.

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Cubs Ready For Home Opener

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Two things happened in yesterday’s 3-0 shutout of the Milwaukee Brewers. One, Jose Quintana emerged as a solid ace in training and Ben Zobrist is the best Cubs player this year, he could become the David Ross of 2018.

“You look on paper and [the Brewers] have predominantly right-handed hitters against him,” Maddon said. “That doesn’t bother ‘Q.’ If ‘Q’ is executing his stuff, righties or lefties, he’s pretty good. The guy is so focused going into the game. His work is so good. He likes being here, he likes pitching here. I think you’re seeing the best side of Jose.”

We are. It can only get better.

“We have really high expectations,” Quintana said of the Cubs. “It’s really good when you start winning at the beginning. We talked a lot before games. We want to do good things this year. We know it’s a long season but this month is really important.”

So far, the Cubs have looked a little weary from being on the road, so it’s exciting anticipating their return to Wrigley Field today. It’s fitting that they’re the last team in the majors to roll out their home opener, hey with a place nicknamed the “Windy City” it’s no wonder, I mean April baseball isn’t always the most heartwarming thing on everyone’s mind.

It is one of the most exciting days of the year. It’s an opportunity to sit back and enjoy all that’s good. Sure, it’s going to be cold but for me, there’s very few things that are up there with baseball at Wrigley Field.

“It’s just different when the game starts and you have the adrenaline going, sometimes you don’t notice how cold it is,” Kris Bryant said. “We have plenty of heaters and hand warmers and all the other stuff. We should be fine.”

Anthony Rizzo wants to play in the opener. In fact, it feels almost not the same that he might not be ready today. He’s the Cubs’ Micky Mantle and their leader. So, I’m going out on a limb to say that there’s a good probability we might see him sneak in an At Bat today.

“I want to play (Monday),” Rizzo said. “But at the same time, you’ve got to be smart. You can’t play (Monday) and set myself back five to six days. We’ll see how it goes. (Sunday) will be a big day to see how it really feels.”

The past few years have been night games and it’s made the home opener much different. Today, it’s at 2:20 EST and let’s face it folks, baseball is best played during the day.

“Don’t let anyone say that it’s just a game, I’ve seen other teams and it’s never the same. When you’re born in Chicago, you’re blessed and you’re healed the first time you walk into Wrigley Field

—Eddie Vedder

I wasn’t born in Chicago but walking onto Wrigley Field takes lines off faces and replaces them with smiles. It truly is a magical place. We’re watching from Canada but we’ll be there in spirit cheering on the Cubs while clearing the BBQ for the year’s first taste of glorious Italian sausages with peppers and onions.

This is the year that the Cubs are going to win the World Series at home in the place where it belongs.

Believe It

 

Cubs Get Happ-y in Milwaukee

 

Cubs 5, Brewers 2

“We never quit” has been an ongoing saying within the Cubs organization for a couple of years now, well, since they won the World Series. In yesterday afternoon’s 5-2 9th inning heroics over the Milwaukee Brewers, the Cubs looked like that team that doesn’t quit. Jon Lester hit a sacrifice bunt, now that’s a true non-quitter!

Ian Happ strikes out a lot. He also comes through when it counts, yesterday was no different.

“You’ve just got to keep working,” Happ said. “It’s the reason why we play this many games and it’s a game of averages, because there’s going to be some ups and downs. Hopefully this is going to be the biggest of the downs and I’ll get back going on a normal pace.”

He was the big reason the Cubs turned the corner. Yeah, I’m liking this rivalry a lot. Rivalries over time and situation, the Milwaukee/Cubs rivalry is getting exciting and we’re going to see a good one today.

“We always fight,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We’ve been unable to get the big hit. It was nice for ‘Happy’ to get off the schneid there. Big at-bat. Loved that it went to left center, that’s a good sign as opposed to being pulled. That’s a huge at-bat right there. And of course, Jonny Lester. That could not have been placed more perfectly. We’re playing well. We’re just not getting hits when we need it.”

They are playing well. Whether it’s a miscue or just an unlucky break, the Cubs have managed to claw their way through the month and manage to stay within the pack. It’s great news that Yu Darvish bounced back in this game from his Cubs debut as well.

“Darvish was tremendous,”  Maddon said after the game. “He hit a groove in his delivery. Once he gets to that point, heads up, because he’s going to throw strikes exactly where he wants to. That’s exactly where he was at by the time we had to take him out.”

Also, Brandon Morrow picked up his first save with the club. You know what? It felt like yesterday’s game was the game that dusted off the regular season dust and got them into a sync for the months ahead–I hope. So, what was with the umpire picking on Victor Caratini? There were more than a few missed calls with the guy, I don’t know I’m going to keep my eye on that in the future, it could be the Milwaukee crowd or just a coincidence. Another thing I’ve been meaning to ask is what’s with the foggy atmosphere in Milwaukee?

So, with the series finally today(I’ll be keeping an eye on the Masters as well)the Cubs are gearing up for their home opener tomorrow. What’s on the menu and how do you celebrate it?

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Cubs Commit Costly Errors In Milwaukee

Brewers 5, Cubs 4

So, it wasn’t the outcome the Chicago Cubs had hoped for in their 5-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers but it sure was a fun game for the most part. I mean, c’mon Javier Baez‘s Little League Home Run. I know he’s the player that causes headaches for managers and third base coaches but, man if there’s a spark plug in the Cubs’ offence, it’s got to be him.

Whatever is wrong with the Cubs so far in this young season, I believe is slowly getting fixed. Let’s forget the fact that Kyle Hendricks wasn’t his usually stoic self. After all, he did give up two homers which, in fact, was only the second time he’s done that in his career. I know it’s hard for me to pick on the guy when he doesn’t play as well as he usually does, but in this case it looked like the Brewers finally figured him out. I think too the problem with a pitcher who doesn’t throw hard, it becomes much more problematic when they make mistakes.

“They capitalized on two bad pitches,” Hendricks said. “That was definitely two bad pitches, and you don’t get away with either one of them. I thought [I was] making really good pitches early, getting some quick outs, a few hits but they were soft-contact hits. It was a couple bad pitches, and I didn’t get away with it.”

Hey, it happens to the best of us(If the rest of us could throw 90MPH with pinpoint accuracy)

It also happens to the best Rookie of The Year/NLMVP/World Series Champion/All around decent guy, Kris Bryant when he bobbles a throw to first baseman Victor Caratini, I mean  they can’t be Bryzzo everyday especially when the other half is out with back stiffness.

“I honestly shouldn’t have thrown it,” Bryant said. “[Perez] was safe all the way. I was trying to make a play there. It didn’t work out. Sometimes that’s how it is. It’s a little frustrating.”

Yeah, it’s frustrating. This April has been frustrating but with Yu Darvish getting the ball today, things will get better. They have to get better, right? Problem is , Anthony Rizzo will probably be out day to day. Look on the bright side, if you’re feeling frustrated about the Cubs, turn it over to the Masters.

“We played really well,”Joe Maddon said. “We did a lot of things well. We just couldn’t get a hit when we needed it, but we worked good at-bats, pitched really well. We did a lot of things well. We should’ve won that game and we didn’t. Give them credit. They got the two two-run homers and then punched the last one across. But I’m here to tell you, man, we play that game consistently, I’ll take it.”

Believe it

 

Cubs Shut Out Brewers In Style

Cubs 8, Brewers 0

Nobody can say that, “It’s only April” anymore, the Chicago Cubs and the rest of the league are well into the 2018 season. Even though the Cubs/ Brewers series seemed a little lopsided on paper, the Cubs weren’t going to take anything for granted, especially their newish arch rivals. Last night, the Cubs opened the series with an 8-0 destruction of the Brewers.

“When you make mistakes on defense and the other team takes advantage, it normally does hit you in the solar plexus a bit,” Maddon said. “Javy’s had that kind of experience on the bases. He’s always heads up. If you watch him, he’ll look behind as he’s running to see what’s going on. Going back in the day, you’d see [Willie] Mays do that a lot. [Baez] has got extraordinary instincts on the bases.”

There were a lot of miscues and mistakes that the Cubs took advantage of especially Javier Baez who can read plays like very few can in the MLB. It helped a bit when the Brewers committed error after error. I’m not saying they played poorly but the Cubs capitalized on just about every opportunity brought their way.

“Javy never ceases to amaze people with what he’s able to do on the basepaths, let alone everything else,” Jon Lester said. “He’s always going to play the game aggressively, and it’s always going to work out for us. I think the slide was more impressive than him reading that ball and getting home. That’s always a nice thing to have on your side.”

The run for home is something Cubs fans would love to see more of this season.

“I had a good jump and the ball took a little bit to get to him and he speeded up a little bit,” Baez said. “Right before I stepped on third base, I turned and [Cain] bobbled the ball, so I kept going. They let me run the bases how I want to. I obviously have fun out there. If you pay attention to where you need to be and wherever the sign’s coming from, you know everything. At that moment, I was reacting to the play and hustling down the line.”

Last night’s win was an excellent chance to dust the dirt from the pants and get back in form. I loved the lineup last night and seeing Ian Happ back at lead off was a welcome return. The other player that looked really good was Ben Zobrist. Maddon has a thing for Zobrist and last night showed why.

“He’s been seeing pitches,” Maddon said. “He’s been hitting the ball hard. Putting him and (Ian) Happ in front of KB and (Anthony) Rizzo, I thought it might help a little bit to feed those two. And then you move everybody else down, which isn’t a bad thing. Zobrist has really looked good at the plate so I thought it was wise to get him back up near the top.”

It was a very wise decision. The other decision is what to do with Jason Heyward?

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Cubs Get Divine Intervention In Cincy

Folks, this could very well be a blessing in disguise for the Chicago Cubs. The rain out quite possibly just saved their bullpen. When a lot of people were enjoying cooked ham and family, the Cubs were revelling in two extra inning games to kick off the 2018 season.

That’s not a great way to start the season now is it?

“We’ll stay in line,” Maddon said prior to the game. “We’re looking for an off-day to get the bullpen right, so we’re counting on that being tomorrow. That’s my bigger concern.”

I like Maddon’s thinking, it’s hard not to when he’s got that kind of resume. Stay the course on the mound, cause we know that outside of Darvish’s not so incredible debut in a Cubs’ uniform, the rotation has been quite solid.

Maddon’s going to give Zobrist a chance in the leadoff tomorrow in Milwaukee with Ian Happ expected to resume his spot at the top of the order by the Cubs home Opener on Monday.

“This team’s going to be just fine, offense is going to be just fine,” said Happ. “There are a lot of really good hitters. Not everybody’s meshing right now. Not everybody’s swinging it well. We will get to the point where everything clicks. We’ll see some big numbers. It’s just a matter of time.”

We all know from the past what happens when the Cubs get rollin?

So, speaking of the home opener, what’s on the menu at your party? We’re thinking of sausages with all the peppers and onions maybe picking up some Goose Island and airing out the barbecue. Yeah, that sounds awesome.

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