Cubs Left Out In The Cold

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Why are there always good things to happen to the Chicago Cubs even when they lose? Coming hot on the heels after a couple of “Inclement weather” warnings, the Cubs fell back into the baseball groove last night with a 5-3 loss to their arch nemesis (If they were stuck in the Marvel Universe) the St. Louis Cardinals.

Nick Fury: What’s your super powers?

Chicago Cub: Bad luck, curses and inclement weather

Fury: Damn, you’re pairing with Hawkeye

When I say good things that happen, I’m talking El Mago Javier Baez. A triple short of the cycle and yet, they couldn’t find a way to win.

“It’s going to happen,” Joe Maddon said. “I’m fully confident it’s going to happen. The bullpen has done a wonderful job, and the starters are really good. There’s a lot to look forward to with the starters because they’re really good, and as things settle in, they’ll really start piling up the innings. I mean that, I’m not just saying it.”

I’m glad that Anthony Rizzo has returned to the lineup. His much needed help is a welcome sign to the struggling 7-8 North Side Blue Bears. As much as what’s happening on the field is to blame for their uncharacteristic record, the weather, postponement of games and the frigid temperatures around the league are probably the main cause of their poor play. I mean look at all those snowbirds returning from Florida to Canada only to be welcomed by a mountain of snow, “What do you mean I can’t break out my 7 iron?” I guess it happens in baseball as well.

“You know those sunny days are coming, both on the field and as a group, so we’ll just keep playing through it,” said Rizzo.

Playing through it is about all they can do. Sunny days are coming but when I see players on the field with toques, that’s a sign that either global warming is a serious threat to America’s National Pastime or we may be doomed to have domes throughout MLB.

I’m kidding about the toques.

So, perhaps Rizzo is right by suggesting playing fewer games?

“I think we play too much baseball,” Rizzo said Tuesday during his weekly appearance on ESPN 1000. “Yes, guys are going to take pay cuts. But are we playing this game for the money or do we love this game? I know it’s both, but in the long run it will make everything better.”

What do you mean, play fewer games? Cut baseball? Blasphemy!

“I think playing in the cold sucks,” continued Rizzo, who was activated from the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday. “I was thinking about this the other day. When you think of Cubs and Cardinals, you think of a beautiful Saturday at Wrigley Field. You don’t think about playing in 20 degrees.”

He has a point. Cut the season by 10 games, it’s a lot of venue cutting, but the mighty minds of accounting and finance can work something out because empty seats look bad. Wait a minute, what about playing more doubleheaders?

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Cubs’ Darvish Struggles Continue

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There’s something really going wrong with the 2018 edition of the Chicago Cubs. Yesterday’s 4-0 shutout loss to the Atlanta Braves proved that without a doubt. The blame can no longer be put on cold conditions or April. Now, I’m not going to say that nothing can’t be fixed but the pessimism is starting to creep in a little bit.

The balk.

Was it a balk in the fifth inning or not? It didn’t look like a balk to me or perhaps a borderline balk at best.

“Obviously, everything went south after the balk, which was not a balk. It was not a balk, but it was called a balk,” Joe Maddon said. “It seemed to create a little bit of awkwardness. [Darvish] was doing well up to that point … then it came apart really quickly.”

It all came apart after that and the Cubs sure aren’t looking like they’re going to roar in the face of the competition this year. They’re below .500 and most importantly, they’ve lost 3 of 4 at Wrigley Field. Even the most casual of baseball fan knows those aren’t good numbers. What’s more, the most casualist(I think I made that word up but it works)  of casual fans realize that at $126 million big ones, Yu Darvish must perform at the top of the food chain in order for him to succeed at Chicago’s hallowed grounds. Cubs fans can easily forgive Jason Heyward‘s base blunders because his defence is aces. Darvish won’t be that lucky.

“[I was] frustrated,” Darvish said. “Again, because it had never occurred before. It was in a critical situation, and then it happened. So that’s frustrating.”

Of course it’s frustrating but it’s frustrating to us, the fans that we’re watching a Chicago Cubs team that isn’t playing up to their potential, has been shut out three times this season and their star first baseman is out with a back injury.

“It never helps to not have Rizzo. We have to win games like that. We’re not getting anything going. A couple good at-bats, couple well-struck balls but nothing with real consistency. Their pitcher had us off balance the entire game. He doesn’t throw as hard as he used to but he really knows how to pitch. He pitched well but we have to do a better job offensively.” Maddon said.

If Darvish was honest in his own assessment of his performance, then Maddon is quietly, in his own Maddon way, losing his patience with how the team is performing.

Today, Jose Quintana gets the ball and arguably, is the Cubs most effective thrower. He got a shutout on April 8th so perhaps he’s the guy who will turn the Cub’s performance around?

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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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Cubs Can’t Figure Out Dodgers

NLCS Game 3: Dodgers 6, Cubs 1

It’s easy to point fingers when things don’t quite go as they planned but the truth is that after last night’s heartbreaking 6-1 loss to the Dodgers, the Cubs, who are down 3-0 in the NLCS and face elimination tonight, well, they’re just getting beat by a better team.

“I don’t think there’s any need to change anything,” Chicago’s Kris Bryant said of the club’s approach on Wednesday. “I think we can play even more loose, because what have we got to lose? No one’s expecting us to come back except the guys in this room. I don’t know if it’s a comforting feeling, but I guess it takes a lot of pressure off us because no one’s expecting us to win.”

He’s partially right. They changed things up and they still lost. For some strange reason, the Cubs can’t seem to hit anything thrown in their direction. They’ve been here before and know what’s at stake. All of us arm chair quarterbacks can question Maddon’s bullpen decisions or lineup changes but in the end it comes down to the Cubs not being able to capitalize on situations.

“I’m not going to sit here and throw a lot of hyperbole your way,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s just about our guys. Your back’s absolutely against the wall. Tomorrow is a Game 7. We have three or four Game 7s in a row coming up right now. … We need to gain some kind of mental momentum, and obviously that’s our last chance to do it [Wednesday].”

So, even if the Cubs had an amazing first half and coupled with their incredible second half of the season, the outcome would still be the same. They would have faced the Dodgers somehow and probably still got beat.

Tonight, they have Jake Arrieta on the mound. The former Cy Young winner will look to extend the Cubs season. Remember, the Cubs have been down in a series before.

“It’s just taking one game at a time, really,” Arrieta said. “There is no use in dwelling on what happened the night before or a couple days ago and trying to look too far into the future. I think that’s the mindset that we’ve kind of carried throughout the season, and it’s worked out really well for us.”

Anything can happen. If the Cubs win tonight, they stave off elimination. If the Cubs go on to defeat the Dodgers, everyone will forget the “He should have had Davis in” rants on Twitter. These aren’t the Dodgers of last season. The Cubs aren’t the Cubs of last season either.

“I wouldn’t sit here and say we’re going to lose,” Carl Edwards said. “We’re still confident. We’re ready. It’s a very funny sport. And we’d like to say the tables can turn at any time.”

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Cubs Down 2-0 in NLCS. Head Back To Wrigley

If the Chicago Cubs go on to lose the NLCS then it’ll be on Joe Maddon’s shoulders. There I said it. I say this after the Cubs were downed by the Dodgers 4-1 and now the Dodgers have a two game lead going to Chicago on Tuesday.

Sure, Kris Bryant‘s bat has gone silent, in fact, the rest of the team has been quiet in this series. Nobody can blame it on stellar pitching because both rotations have been in a state of flux. The fact is that Jon Lester should have stayed in for another inning or even a couple more outs. Carl Edwards was good for another few outs and well, Brian Deunsing was pitching really well, so I don’t quite understand what went wrong there? Oh wait, I’m sure everyone’s scratching their heads over the use of John Lackey. The guy has never pitched back to back games in his life.

“I really just needed him for the save tonight,” Joe Maddon said. “He had limited pitches. It was one inning only, and in these circumstances, you don’t get him up and then don’t get him in. So if we had caught the lead, he would have pitched. That’s it.”

Now, I’m glad Wade Davis wasn’t used, he’ll be fresh for Tuesday at Wrigley Field. Here’s hoping it’s cold in Chicago and Yasul Puig’s tongue sticks to the bat. Any recommendations of a rule change to aluminum?

“It’s their guys versus our guys,” Addison Russell said. “We’re playing to win. I feel like the competition just steps up a little bit because each pitch is more crucial, each swing, each play. An error can be the deciding factor of winning or losing. A bad pitch can be the decision of winning or losing. That’s really what I like about it.”

It’s really going to come down to the Cubs scoring more runs and Maddon not playing hot potato with his bullpen. Kyle Hendricks gets the start on Tuesday. He’s well rested and he needs to put up a performance for the ages, at least seven innings. Carl Edwards Jr relieves him and then it’s Wade Davis’ turn to shine.

“All you’re focused on is making pitches,” Hendricks said recently. “That’s my job and it never changes — no matter regular-season game, postseason game, no matter who you are facing on the other side of the mound. My focus is to go out there, make good pitches, rely on my preparation which I’ve done all year long. But when it comes down to it, when those lights turn on, you just have to execute pitches better than the other guy.”

The Cubs have been down in a series before and fought back, we know this and we know the results. They needed that win in LA, but not all is lost. They win three at Wrigley and take one back in LA. Easy Peasy, right? Bill Murray will be there to cheer them on and the momentum is clearly in the Cubs corner.

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Chicago Cubs Advance To NLCS

Last night was one of the most frustrating games I’ve ever seen. The Chicago Cubs are NLDS Champions and advance to the NLCS to face the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers after a 9-8 victory sending the Washington Nationals golfing for another year.

“I would say this is the most fun I’ve had playing in a baseball game, and it ranks right up there with winning the World Series,” Addison Russell said.

You know, he’s right. It would come close to winning the World Series, I mean he should know, right? It seemed both the Cubs and the Nationals expired their pitching order respectively in an attempt to thwart each other and win the NLDS. Neither starting pitcher could get it done with Kyle Hendricks or Gio Gonzalez. To give you an example about how weird the game was, Hendricks threw seven strikeouts and Gonzalez had six. If this were any other game, those would be decent numbers but not last night; The Cubs wanted to go on to their third NLCS while the Nationals haven’t won a series in 36 years (going back to the Expos)

“This was such a tough series, just a dogfight,” said Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who started the series’ opener and finale. “You’ve got to tip your hat. That club on the other side is really, really good. Lot of tough ballplayers over there. Top to bottom, they’re just so deep. We’re just lucky we were able to come out on top.”

Luck being the key word. This series truly would have gone the other way and normally I cringe when athletes “Tip their cap” to their opponent but in this case, it’s justified. I’ve never been more nervous watching a ballgame then last night.

“Really anxious, almost bemused at some of the things that were happening in that game,” said Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations. “It was kind of a surreal game. We got all those runs with only one big hit to drive in runs, and then it was a matter of just holding on, finding a way to get 27 outs. It seemed impossible at times.”

Trust me Theo, it looked impossible from this end as well. When they say a pitcher’s duel, they included when the pitcher’s performances were sub par as well. If there were a way to get 27 outs without throwing strikes, this was the game.

“That’s one of the most incredible victories I’ve ever been part of,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Under the circumstances, in the other team’s ballpark, after a tough loss at home [in Game 4], to come back and do that, give our guys all the credit in the world.”

The NLCS begins tomorrow night. I hope the Cubs have one of their” fun days” and try to relax because one thing that this year’s edition of the post season has shown us is that the Cubs are out to prove last season wasn’t just plain old luck. However, the Dodgers are rested and the Cubs’ machine is well oiled.

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National League Central Division Champions!

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For the second straight year, the Chicago Cubs are National League Central Division Champions. Of course, nothing means more than the World Series but this is huge because it’s their third straight year into the post season and as any Cubs fan will tell you, that doesn’t happen that often. After beating the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1, the Cubs popped the corks off of the champagne, and as has become a tradition in our family these last few years, we’ve binge watched the Chicago Cubs in October.

“We had a lot of things that were not easy about this year, starting with guys naturally being fatigued, but you also have the fact that every team in our division played well this year,” Jason Heyward said. “It’s one of those years when you have to do everything right to get it done. We had a lot of growing to do this year.”

Sure, the blame was put on to World Series hangover during the first half of the season, but I’ve maintained that they struggled during the first half because other teams studied them hard and adapted to the Cubs style of play. That’s how they got beat. The second half revealed that the Cubs were just a good ball team and guys like Javier Baez, stepped up his play and really plugged up the middle while keeping his mighty bat going.

“Without Javy being here when Addy got hurt, it would not look the same right now,” Joe Maddon said of the Cubs’ position in the standings. “I promise you it would not look the same. The ability to plug up the middle of the field the way Javy has done in the absence of Addison, we would not be in this position right now.”

If the Cubs took everyone by storm last year, then this season was learning how to keep the momentum going and adapting to winning ballgames. If you look at the statistics, there’s no leaders this season, it’s been a total team effort.

“We’ve created a culture here where it’s win or bust,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said as he got splashed in the face with beer. “We’re not supposed to be here. I know on paper we are, but after a championship season, the numbers, the studies, the stats show we shouldn’t be here. People don’t do this. We’ve done it, and it feels good. And we’re in a good spot going into the postseason. We’re rolling.”

I’d love to see a dynasty forming with a repeat winner that isn’t named Yankees.

It’s exciting times to be a Cubs fan. There’s even a film coming out based on David Ross’s book, “Teammate” where none other than Bill Murray is tapped to play Joe Maddon. I mean come on, who else could do that role justice? The only question that remains is, who is going to play Bill Murray?

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