Cubs/Red Sox Play The Game Right

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs only play the Red Sox every few years. There’s an argument against interleague play but I don’t see it. Even though the Red Sox won the weekend matchup from their step brother’s in the National League, the Cubs/ Red Sox provide so much in favour of the rich history of Major League baseball, that it would be a shame to see it go.

Kyle Hendricks got off to a shaky start in the 6-2 loss, he settled into a nice groove and I think he’s going to just get better as the season wears on.

“We came out of the gates so hot last year,” Hendricks said. “That was a special phenomenon. Usually this is more what you expect [in April], guys finding their ways into their roles. To be able to still win ballgames is a good sign. We’re not clicking on all cylinders. Once that starts happening, getting in the middle of the year, everybody will start rolling.”

Like Hendricks said, in a way the other teams have should that the Cubs are human in April after all. Yet, despite the mediocre start, there were signs in the Boston series that the Cubs are settling into their groove. Jon Jay had a nice trip around the bags to score at home. He’s a veteran with a good eye on what’s happening at the plate and doesn’t necessarily wait for the base coach’s instructions.

“With everything that happened this month and being on the road a lot, I’ll take what we did right now and get on back home and try to build upon it. There’s not a negative to be found for me.” Joe Maddon said.

The bullpen has come around. look at the work of Carl Edwards Jr. He was practically lights out last night, striking out two. The lanky pitcher was throwing laser beams but if it wasn’t for the mistake costly eighth, the Cubs would have easily won that game.

Then, of course, was Kris Bryant‘s long ball tribute yet again to his parents. The way I look at this series of two teams paying homage to broken curses is that this could very well be a preview to the World Series.

“This is good for the industry,’’  Joe Maddon said . “This has been playoff-like baseball with two really good teams playing the game properly.’’

The two oldest parks in the majors, two curses broken; Now, imagine they meet in the Fall classic? That would be historic. However, there’s plenty of baseball left to play.

Believe it.

Cubs Bring The Bats, Help Lackey

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are somewhat of an oddity this season. They’re not overly good like last year, but they’re not too bad either. If that makes sense? Yesterday, they evened the series against Boston with a 7-4 victory. Then there’s the connection with the World Series teams with John Lackey, Koji Uehara and Dustin Pedroia. That’s quite a connection between these two franchises.

Out of all the pitchers on the Cubs staff, the one I’m worried about the most is John Lackey. Yesterday, the Cubs bared their teeth at the plate, but in the true John Lackey fashion of unpredictability, it was the pitcher that bit the hardest.

“If it’d been the first time to leave somewhere, it would’ve been a little different,” Lackey said. “I was just trying to win a game.”

The game worn face of the veteran hurler argued a call to the umpire. In a move that would likely have thrown every other pitcher out of the game, there seems to be a certain respect (or is that fear) from the umpires for Lackey.  In the end, it wasn’t a pretty game that Lackey threw, giving up four runs and eight hits but the Cubs earned him the win. That’s the kind of game you’re going to get from Lackey.

On the other end of the plate the Cubs have Miguel Montero. I like Montero and he’s kind of stepped up into the David Ross role on the team. Although, he complained about the way he was used in the playoffs, and I totally disagree with him; he hit a grand slam for Pete’s sake! Montero is a good hitter who comes through in the clutch. Yesterday, he did just that with a game tying home run in the seventh inning.

If Miggy Montero is a great clutch player, the one player who might finally get his due this season is Anthony Rizzo. The unofficial leader of the team hit his sixth home run of the season in a two run shot in the fourth inning. Rizzo is overdue for an MVP season and I believe this year is his year for that to happen.

The tandem of Rizzo and Kris Bryant is a throwback to a bygone era like Ruth and Gehrig, Mantle and Maris. There will always be the debate of who’s better but there’s no denying that with Bryant and Rizzo at the corners for the Cubs, they’re the ones laying the foundation for Chicago’s now historic 2016 team. The image is forever engraved in the minds and imaginations of baseball and Cubs fans everywhere the final out in game seven of the World Series. They are the Tinkers to Evers to Chance of a new millennium. The smiling face of Bryant and the ball tucked in the back pocket of Rizzo. That’s what baseball is all about. The culmination of a year’s worth of hard work, team spirit and camaraderie. Anthony Rizzo should win MVP as sure as God made green apples.

Believe it

Cubs and Red Sox Share a Common Bond

Kris Bryant

If Yankee Stadium is the house that Ruth built, then both Fenway Park and Wrigley Field can be dubbed, “The House that Theo Built” It’s always a moving experience watching a game at Fenway Park. There’s so many types of fans from all walks of life strolling through the turnstiles on Yawkey Way. There’s the kind that want to be a part of the experience of “So I can say I saw a game at Fenway Park” then their are fans  who have to see the Cubs and the Red Sox before their buckets are kicked and finally, there are fans like me and you who live and breath these two historic franchises, seeing them play each other brings us back to a time and place when things were a lot more simpler than they are today.

The Cubs lost last night 5-4 from the team that brought you Ted Williams and David Ortiz. Even though the Cubs lost, there was an awesome moment in the 1st inning when Kris Bryant crushed one over the Green Monster. It was his first home run of his career at baseball’s oldest park.

“It was probably one of my favorite home runs, considering my family is from this area and my dad [was drafted by the Red Sox] and all that,” Bryant said. “It felt really good.”

It was fun watching him hit the blast. These two storied franchises have a lot of fans. The chorus of “Go Sox Go! was hard to distinguish from “Go Cubs Go!” add to the fact that the two teams share an historic drought shattered by a Harvard grad, and you’ll have a Cooperstown bond like no other sports teams in history. When these teams get together, it’s almost like a family reunion.

“I’m definitely a Bostonian,” Theo Epstein said. “You only have one hometown. This is my hometown. It’s more than that to me too. I fell in love with baseball here, my parents and brother still live here. I spent 10 years working in this ballpark every day, My first son was born here, I met my wife here. I’ll always have a real affection for the Red Sox.”

The thing to with these teams is if you’re a baseball fanatic, there’ll always be a special part of these teams in you. Whatever walk of life you come from, unless you’re a Yankee fan, you’ll find something deep down inside to cheer for these teams. When we visited Boston a couple of years ago, these Bostonians live and breath baseball. What made it even more special was they’d tip their caps my way. At that time there was a drought, they felt the suffering and acknowledged it.  Last night, even though the Cubs lost, there was a celebration and a homecoming.

“Red Sox baseball is ingrained in the fabric of this whole region, so when you’re part of it, you feel a greater obligation. To have that exact same level of passion and same experience in Chicago, I feel fortunate. I don’t know if I could go anywhere else and work, because it would feel like work. In Boston and Chicago, it doesn’t feel like work, it feels like a privilege and you’re part of the family.”

Believe it

Cubs Streak Continues, Just Not The Good One

Jake Arrieta

The Cubs just can’t seem to catch a break. It looked like this was the series that would break curses, shatter slumps and get the Cubs back on track but the Pittsburgh Pirates proved tough division rivals defeating the Cubs 8-4.

One of the many Cubs mantras over the years has been, “There’s always next year.” but lately their mantra has changed to “Tomorrow”

“Before, everything was pretty, and now everything is kind of ugly,” Miguel Montero said. “It’s baseball. You get a lot of ups and downs. … There’s another game tomorrow.”

Sure, Anthony Rizzo collected his 21st moonshot of the season and Jake Arrieta lived up to his Cy Young award from last year by trying to give the Cubs the lead, but even the mighty beard wasn’t anything to fear last night and Arrieta now has given up 16 earned runs in his last 4 starts. He’s looking human.

“When things aren’t going your way, those moments show up,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We’re leaving way too many folks on base. When you’re not able to score runs like we had been, everything else that’s a negative is magnified. We’re unable to play through our mistakes right now, and probably in the beginning of the year, we did. … No excuses, we have to do better.”

We’ve determined that this is a slump of epic proportions. In fact, if the Cubs hadn’t gotten off to their tremendous start in April and May, chances are they’d be trying for a wild card spot instead of a division championship. Cleveland,Texas and San Francisco have overtaken them.

“Honestly, I think it’s sort of baseball reality,” Theo Epstein said Friday. “It’s impossible to win at the pace we were winning at early in the season the whole year. Every team, even championship-caliber clubs, go through a month or so where they play .500 or so baseball, and that’s what we’re doing. It’s not surprising. I think our players would admit we haven’t quite had the same grinding relentlessness that we had in April. I’m very confident we’re going to get back to that.”

I don’t know if it’s nervousness that’s setting in or what, but the Cubs are quickly looking at their playoff hopes disappearing and are on route to being a part of the greatest collapse in sports history. Even worse than the Boston Red Sox collapse of 2011.

The start of the slump coincides with Dexter Fowler‘s injury June 18, From then until now, the Cubs have dropped 14 games. it goes to show you just how important he is in the lineup. The good news is he’s coming back. He’ll be there after the All Star break and the Cubs will get back to their winning ways.

Today we leave for Pittsburgh. Look for us in Section 120 Row Y on Sunday. We’re representing Canada at the game. With a team that is known for their fair share of curses, hopefully we’re the good luck charm that’ll end it.

Believe it

Cubs Need That Come From Behind Magic

Chicago Cubs

“The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville Nine that day;

the score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.

And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,

a sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.”

The best and the worst part of the Post Season was out in full force yesterday as the Chicago Cubs fell to the New York Mets 5-2 and are down three games in their best of seven series.

“Win on Wednesday,”Joe Maddon said. “It’s just about tomorrow. … Of course, we have to win four in a row, absolutely, but I want us just to concentrate on tomorrow’s game, that’s it.”

I don’t believe the Cubs are out yet. It’s been done before where a team has bounced back from a 3-0 hole in the post season. You might remember a certain Boston Red Sox team in 2004 that were down in the hole. You also might remember that President of baseball operations Theo Epstein was at the control centre during their historic run.

“Show up and win a ballgame tomorrow,” Theo Epstein said. “If we show up and win tomorrow, we’re dangerous. Trust me. It’s been done before, rumor has it. We can do it. We’ve had nine winning streaks of four or more games this year, so we get hot, we get really hot, we can do it. We just have to show up and win tomorrow.”

It’s certainly possible for the Cubs to come back from the deficit. They’ve done it before this season. They’ve won four in a row, did it a bunch of times. They’ll just have to reach down in their little bag of tricks and find that magic.

“Things bounce your way when you play good, and we’ve definitely gotten outplayed these first three games,” Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks said. “That doesn’t mean we can’t outplay them the next four.”

That’s all it takes. So, it’s easy to say that the Cubs winning 97 games in the regular season was a huge accomplishment for a team not expected to go far this season but just be a little better and next year will be the big year. Yeah, it’s easy to say that but for me, there’s still four more games to win.

Believe it.

Cubs Leave Milwaukee In a Stupor

chi-cubs-brewers-2-20140903

Baseball is a funny game. A damn funny game. I’m just checking the standings here and the Cubs are 9 1/2 back in the Wild Card standings. All right, all right it’s a long shot but still, there’s a very real chance that the Cubs can get in there. Don’t believe me? They’ve got a better record then the Boston Red Sox. The World Series Champions.

First off, is there any truth to the rumour that Kyle Hendricks could be a candidate for Rookie of The Year? Is there? The reigning National league Rookie of The Month for August, and nobody can take that away from him until next August went 4-0 before heading into last night’s game. His record is 6-1 since joining the club.

“That’s what you like coming out of the gate,” Hendricks said of the first, “but overall, I didn’t have my stuff tonight and I had to battle. I gave up some weak hits, but overall, I didn’t make a lot of good pitches. Luckily, I was able to get away with it, and guys put up a lot of runs early, which is nice. I had some balls hit hard in play that guys made good plays on.”

If there was an award for the most improved team, it would be the Cubs. Without Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, the Cubs rookies have been picking up the slack. The Cubs have won three straight without their two All Star. While we are on the topic of rookies, what about Chris Valaika? Did anyone see him coming?

“We’re playing good baseball now,” Valaika said. “I’ve seen it all year with these guys in Triple-A. If we keep this rolling, showing teams we can play going into next year, I think we’ll have something special.”

I noticed there was a lady in the crowd holding up a sign that read, “The Big Blue Machine is Coming.” and somebody else had one with 2016. Sounds Biblical.

Believe it.

—Mark

Cubs Get Star Spangled Victory Over Nationals

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals

Not to be outdone by Fourth of July fireworks, the Chicago Cubs set off a few Roman Candles of their own by trading Jeff “The Shark” Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, Dan Straily and a player to be named at a later date.

The trade comes on the heels of a four game winning streak and catapulting the Cubs like those Roman Candles, into 7.5 games back in the Wild Card chase.

So, what does this mean for the now surging Cubs? Well for starters, the Cubs easily disposed of the Washington Nationals yesterday, 7-2. Jason Hammell was yanked from the game after executing 92 pitches. I had a feeling there was something in the works about a week ago when Samardzija was supposed to pitch in today’s matchup but the team called up a pitcher although they made no indication that the deal would be with the Athletics.

“I have no idea why I came out of the game,” said Hammel, who surrendered five hits and struck out seven batters over six-plus innings. “I honestly believe you learn how to pitch when you get to 100 pitches. If you’re not allowed to reach that, I think that’s hurting you more than helping you. So I guess it is what it is right now. But for a guy that’s established and continues to work hard and prepares himself to throw late in games, deep in the games, 100 pitches shouldn’t even come into question.”

It had nothing to do with your pitching, Jason. You were traded. A few years ago, Mike Camalleri who played with the Montreal Canadians, was pulled halfway through the game and sent on a plane to Calgary. It happens.

Is this good news for the Cubs? I’m excited. I like Samardzija but I’m glad he’ll have a shot at a post season and I won’t have to type out that last name as much anymore.

The Cubs of course, are looking towards the future, but they’re also playing great ball of late and perhaps they could earn a spot in the post season.

Yesterday’s brunch proved that the series sweep over the Red Sox wasn’t a fluke. Justin Ruggiano hammered the ball to raise his home run total to four on the season. He’s been playing great ball of late and should only continue.

Baseball’s a funny game isn’t it? I never would have thought the Cubs would be in it this time of the year.

Believe it.

–Mark