Cubs Are Still # 1 in My Books

Cubs Cardinals Baseball

I’m not a huge fan of champagne celebrations after every plateau reached in sports, I’d rather see them save it for the big ones like series wins and of course, the big victory. So, last night’s loss to the Cardinals 8-7 was bittersweet. It was a hell of a game with the Cubs’ now trademark comebacks even though they came up short on this one, it still feels good knowing that the post season starts next week and the Cubs clinching will go down to the wire.

“Let’s just play tomorrow, let’s not overreact to anything,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I love the comeback, I love the energy. [Jake Arrieta] just had a tough night.”

That’s about all you can do. Jason Heyward ad a three run shot and then almost immediately, Ben Zobrist cranked one over the wall to bring the Cubs within a run of tying up the game, but that’s about as close as the Cubs would get.

There were a couple of moments that Cubs fans cringed over when Albert Almora crashed into the outfield wall, team staff rushed over but so far so good and there’s nothing seriously hurt with the outfielder.

“That’s a scary thing,” Jason Heyward said. “The wall is undefeated. That’s one of the things we always have to worry about. What I love about [Almora] is that he’s so fearless when it comes to that. It looked like he tripped into it going after the ball hard.”

Yeah, it looked really terrible.

“I tried to cut [the ball] off before it hit the wall and when I went to slide, I noticed I wasn’t going to get to it and when I looked up the wall was right on me,” Almora said. “There was no slowing down. Luckily, nothing’s broken, nothing’s damaged. All good.”

The other thing that happened was a ball went off of Willson Contreras‘ knee causing him to hobble around for a moment or two but nothing serious.

The writing on the wall last night occurred when the Cubs failed to capitalize on a couple bases loaded situations.

“These guys are going to make it as tough as possible on us, as we expect. We have to do our best to take care of business tomorrow, and then we’ll see what happens.” Arrieta said.

So, the Cubs magic number remains at 1. Leave it to the St. Louis Cardinals to frustrate the World Series Champions. This season, the Cubs haven’t made it easy on themselves or their fans. A frustrating first half, a comeback second half and an exhausting race to the finish line. What do the Cubs have in line for October?

Believe it.

Cubs Sweep Mets With Monster Runs

The Chicago Cubs 14-6 victory over the New York Mets signalled two things. How bad the Mets are or who potentially awesome the Cubs could have been all season long. Oh, the other thing signalled was how frustrating two back to back 14 plus runs games are when your fantasy league schedules you for a bye week and the majority of your players play for the Cubs. Yeah, I’m pointing my finger right at you Albert Almora.

The Cubs swept the Mets which is exactly what they needed to do at this point in the season. They open up a somewhat crucial series against the St. Louis Cardinals, who are vying for that coveted playoff spot as well.

“I probably shouldn’t take Clark [Street]. Just go down Lake Shore [Drive]. It’s a good thing, I love it. It’s good for the city, it’s good for baseball. It’s good for your growth moments as a baseball person in the National League. It’ll be exciting. One at a time. Try to get a nice one-game winning streak going tomorrow and move on from there.” Joe Maddon said.

If the Cubs haven’t really dominated this season the way that the Los Angeles Dodgers have done on the west coast, they do have a chance to turn those tides heading into the post season. It’s true that there are probably some cliches out there that veer towards not mattering how you get into the post season, but how you get out of it, is probably going to be on Maddon’s next T-Shirts that he issues to his players.

“It’s up to us to maintain what we’ve earned up to this point,” Maddon said. “We’re very capable of doing that. The Cardinals have done it for many years, in terms of winning championships, the level they’ve played at. I think it’s interesting, entertaining, great. I love being part of it.”

The Cubs certainly have the tools to get the job done(sorry, that one slipped out) and Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant are hitting, it’s going to be an interesting post season. Realistically, the Cubs have a slim chance but they do have a chance.

“Familiarity,” first baseman Rizzo said. “We’re really familiar with them. We see [Carlos] Martinez, [Michael] Wacha and [Lance] Lynn all the time. We know what they have. We know their bullpen. On the other side, they know what we have.”

Geez, it seems like this St. Louis Series is a playoff matchup or something?

“We have to beat better pitching to win this thing,” Maddon said after Thursday’s win. “You have to score runs with outs. We’re scoring runs without homers, sometimes, which is nice to watch and see, execution-wise.”

Believe it

Cubs Win Fourth In a Row

Albert Almora JR

Just like that, the Chicago Cubs are among baseball’s hottest teams after a 3-1 win over the Miami Marlins. With the win, the Cubs are back on top of the NL Central. With home runs delivered by Kris Bryant and Albert Almora JR.

Alma Jr’s home run in particular, was a special thing considering he’d like to play everyday but with the arrival of Ian Happ, playing time has diminished.

“If I say no, I’m a liar,” Almora said. “I’m a competitor and I want to play, but it’s not about me. It’s about the Chicago Cubs and winning another World Series. I’m happy to be here and happy to help in whatever way I can. Tonight, they gave me an opportunity and I’m glad I helped out.”

If that’s what it takes to put the wins on the board, then perhaps juggling Almora for Happ on a regular basis might be the thing to do or getting the RISP up and getting them home is the key. Last night, the Cubs delivered on that. If the wind was blowing out, then the Cubs might have had more runs scored.

“The lake did injure us a bit, but it also got them on the fly ball by [Christian] Yelich to left [in the first],” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We did hit the ball better than the 3-1 [score], but that’s how the ballpark plays some days.”

Which is one of the treasured jewels of Wrigley Field, and the most frustrating. In fact, it takes away the home field advantage when the wind is blowing in.

“In [batting practice], we were crushing balls,” Almora said. “You try not to do too much in these situations. You know if you hit the ball hard, it’s going to go.”

Then it changes.

The feel good story of the game was Almora hitting his home run. A Miami boy, his friends and family were watching back home. For a guy who doesn’t have regular playing time, the home run took on a special meaning.

“I’m just happy I’m able to represent my family back home,” Almora said. “I just do it for them. When I give them the chance to see their son or their friend go out there and have success, I’m just happy it happened.”

With their fourth straight win, the winds have changed in the Cubs favour and as Jake Arrieta gets the call today for his fourth start at Wrigley Field this season, the Cubs will try to improve on those numbers and once again become baseball’s best team.

Believe it

 

Cubs Keep It Entertaining And Almora Goes Airborne

Willson Contreras

Nobody can ever say that the Chicago Cubs don’t ever quit. In just about every game that they come up short, there’s been some reminder of that. Last night, the Cubs came up short against the San Francisco Giants 6-4 but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

“If we keep playing that game, it’ll make me a happy person. I thought we played really well. We had really good at-bats, played our defense. That’s what I’m looking for, more of that. When you lose a game like that, my thought has been if we keep playing like that, we’ll win plenty.”Joe Maddon said.

My problem with games like that is they’ll have a difficult time winning any of those games if they can’t follow through and win them. If the Cubs were the team they were a few years ago, then “fighting back” and “never quitting” were great terms to apply to them because they were an up and coming team. Not now, they’re the freakin’ World Series Champions!

“Obviously, we’re not tired of saying that we never quit,” Javier Baez said.

Of course there were a lot of positives to take away from the game like Ian Happ. The guy’s hitting .357 with seven extra base hits. They’ll find a way to keep the rookie in the lineup.

“It’s not easy to do,” Jason Heyward said. “Some guys come up and there are a lot of questions or whatever … He does what he’s asked.”

It wasn’t just about Happ either. The resurgent Javier Baez and the ultimate team player , Ben Zobrist each served up souvenirs for excited Wrigley attendees but all that amounts to nothing when it comes to actually winning the games. It’s easy for me to say that the Cubs need to get out early and stay ahead or if they’re coming from behind to actually win the game. Oh wait, there was Albert Almora‘s awesome Kevin Pillar impression in the first inning when he went airborne.

The true indication of the Cubs turning the corner will come with Ben Zobrist in the leadoff spot. He’s a great hitter and if he continues, they will win a lot more games.

“That first at-bat, you kind of feel like, ‘Well, maybe I should be patient,'” Zobrist said. “But then again you don’t want to let a ball right down the middle go by.”

Believe it

Cubs Never Quit

#ThatsCub

With their tenth come from behind victory of the season in a 5-4 13th inning thriller at Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs may not win over a hundred games this season, but their resiliency is charging a path through the league. Albert Almora Jr. whacked a double in the extra innings and then ran home when Phillies Freddy Galvis committed an error.

“When Szczur hit the ground ball, you have in the back of your head, like, what if something happens?” Almora said. “He could beat it out and if the first baseman’s not paying attention, I could score. It was in the back of my head.”

It wasn’t just Almora but Miguel Montero hit a clutch home run in the eighth inning to tie the game.

“I hit the ball good, but the wind was really weird,” Montero said. “I didn’t know what to expect and next thing I know, the ball is in the basket. Basket — amazing basket when I hit, but when I’m catching, I hate it. As soon as the ball hit the basket, I slowed down. I never thought I had a chance to hit it out. I got lucky.”

The Cubs got lucky the whole game. How long can they maintain these come from behind victories? It seems to be working for them now but in the dog days of summer, it’s going to be a different story altogether. Injuries will happen and teams will adjust.

This weekend marks the New York Yankees return to Wrigley Field. It is therefore fitting that the “Love them or hate them” duo of Aroldis Chapman and Starlin Castro will make their return to the Friendly Confines. It’s also fitting that the duo play for the much maligned Yankees.

Listen, I like Starlin Castro. He was my son’s favourite player for the longest time. I remember watching the game and when my son was playing something around the house and Castro would hit one of his memorable home runs, I would yell and my son would come running from wherever he was playing. Castro just didn’t fit into the Cubs plans and that happens. I’m glad he hitched onto the Yankees. By The Way, my son likes the Yankees now.

“I can’t wait to go over there and hear from the fans the first time they announce me,” said Castro.

Aroldis Chapman is another entity unto himself. The hard throwing hurler may not be the nicest individual off of the field and Cubs fans, myself included, took exception to his off field incident which is unacceptable behaviour. That being said, when the Cubs honour him with his championship ring it will be well deserved. He delivered on the field for the team and should be honoured appropriately for it.

On the subject of Chapman, I want to applaud the efforts by the Canadian Football League recently in their handling of Justin Cox. In a statement issued by the CFL,  Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge implemented zero tolerance on domestic violence for Cox. This is a tremendous stance and a first for a professional sports league.

Well done,

Believe it

Bryzzo Souvenir Company Adds Another Gem To Collection

Albert Almora

The Chicago Cubs certainly have a flair for the dramatic. In extra innings, the Cubs defeated the Cincinnati Reds 6-5 after an Anthony Rizzo 3 run long ball to tie it in the ninth. Their, “We do not quit” motif is some serious stuff this season being their third straight victory in a come from behind way. If it was Anthony Rizzo in the ninth, then it was Kris Bryant with the sacrifice in extra innings.

“You never think home run,” Rizzo said. “These guys do pitch me up-and-in a lot. Off the bat, I thought, yeah, but the wind was kind of strong. I thought it might be a long single if it hit the top of the wall.”

Have the Cubs turned a corner after a not so awesome start to April? I hope it’s true, but how much longer can they sustain their, “Comeback Kids” moniker?

“That’s what we always say, the comeback kids,” Rizzo said. “In the ninth, we’re saying here comes the comeback. It’s a good feeling to know none of these guys quit. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. We know we can score at any given time.”

I have to admit, I do like the entertainment of watching them comeback in late innings, although nerve racking in many ways, it gives it that post season vibe, I just get the feeling that they won’t be able to sustain the momentum for long. Awe shucks, perhaps it’s just my inner pessimistic Cubs fan rearing its ugly head.

The are many things I’m certain of but when it comes to the Chicago Cubs, these are the best days to be a fan. They’re exciting, thrilling and of course the World Series team of 2016 have a seat reserved in Cooperstown. Now, the team could be better than last season only because of the close games and the “Bryzzo” factor. These Cubs have personality just not one or two superstars but an entire team that contributes each game.

Speaking of the Bryzzo factor, catch David Ross’s last adventures as an intern with the Bryzzo Souvenir Company

In many ways though, the Cubs got lucky in those come from behind victories. Their pitching hasn’t been solid, Lester gave up 5 earned runs. It’s not hard to figure out that if the pitching isn’t there, then no matter how many hits the team gets (unless of course, they score runs) the teams not going to win. The Cubs have to get their rotation going.

“Would like it to go the other way, being up early, but a win is a win,” Cubs starter Jon Lester said. “When you come back, it always makes it a little bit better.”

You can tell through Joe Maddon’s thoughts on the “Comeback Kids” that he too would like to see a more viable and solid play of his squad.

“I’m OK with that identity, but I’d rather do it in more conventional means,” he said with a smile. “It’s what we talk about. We just don’t quit.”

Believe it

 

 

 

Cubs Let The Good Times Roll Over Brewers

Chicago Cubs

National Beer Day was on Friday so it was fitting that the Brewers won but last night was another story. The Chicago Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers 11-6 but it was the slump breaking play of reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant that cemented the victory, contributing with 3 RBI’s in the win.

“I don’t feel anywhere near comfortable up there, but it’s nice to get some hits out of the way,” Bryant said.

It’s no secret that spring training is much different than the regular season. Pitchers find their accuracy and batters are studied more in depth and let’s face it, Kris Bryant is probably the most studied hitter in the game right now. If he gets into a slump, it’s not entirely his fault.

“Just get more determined,” Bryant said of his approach when things don’t go right. “I realize this is part of being a big leaguer is to deal with the 0-for-12 and the 0-for-13 and the bad stretches and know it will turn around because it always does. It’s part of the learning process. I’m planting the seeds to keep learning and taking notes in the back of my head. For me, it’s be more determined up there.”

Albert Almora Jr is a player whose presence is going to grow more as the season wears on. He had three hits last night and let’s not forget the defensive plays after making a nice grab in the fifth inning.

“The way Almora has been playing center — that catch he made for me today was huge — and the day he had at the plate,” Kyle Hendricks said.

Hendricks, in his regular season debut, racked up six strikeouts and matched his career tying two hits in a game and get the win and yet, he remains humble.

“It wasn’t the start I was looking for, but luckily we came out swinging today. Finding the strike zone wasn’t the problem. I was throwing across my body, and things were kind of off.” Hendricks said. “Once the game started going, I started to find my groove a little bit, by the fifth inning, it was pretty good. The sixth was really good. I just needed to get into a groove.”

So, it’s the Home Opener Eve. Tomorrow the Cubs can celebrate their first World Series Championship with the Wrigley faithful. The banners will be raised and for all those fans that have stood by their side for all the years, the young and the old will rejoice. It’s pretty exciting stuff. Guys like Al Yellon from Bleed Cubbie Blue who pours his heart out each and everyday with his devotion to North Side’s noble heroes, tomorrow will be a special day. As much as it is a great day for the players, it’s also a great day for the Wrigley staff. Those hard working folks who put the tarps on the field, serve your hot dogs and bring the beer to your seat. If you’re at the game tomorrow, don’t forget to thank the Wrigley staff. It’s the players that win the games but it’s that staff that keep it friendly.

Believe it.