Zobrist is Turning Back Time With HR

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The Chicago Cubs opened their series with the New York Mets in style, grabbing a 5-1 victory with Jose Quintana on the mound. He went six scoreless innings but just ask Jason Heyward how good he was.

“He did an awesome job attacking the zone, making adjustments on the fly to the hitters,” right fielder Jason Heyward said. “He was able to mix and match stuff. It was pretty impressive to watch from behind.”

Then there’s Chicago’s aging veteran Ben Zobrist, who is vying for David Ross’s Grampa role on the team. Zobrist got another home run in the win. In limited play, Zobrist has three home runs in May.

This series against the Mets is an interesting one because the Mets aren’t that great this season. If the Cubs can sweep them, they’ll be in a good position to snag the Wild Card spot and be in a stronger position to stay afloat in the tough National League Central.

This season more than the last few has showcased great playing from guys like Jason Heyward and Tommy La Stella, who doesn’t get enough recognition for being there in the clutch. These guys are going to be the key to the Cubs reaching October because the top of the order hasn’t found their groove yet.

The Cubs need their pitching to get going and Tyler Chatwood will get his opportunity to shine tonight. It’s been a tough season for Chatwood and this series is so far, one of the more important series for the Cubs. Now’s the time for a sweep

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Cubs Lose Make Up Game

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It was the makeup Jackie Robinson Day game and despite the long ball display, the Cubs lost the first game in a four game set with the Atlanta Braves 6-5.

Jose Quintana got roughed after giving up three home runs.

“Today we made a lot of mistakes — I consider them more mental than physical … just a mentally lethargic game early on.” Maddon said.

Even though the Cubs lost the game, the day belonged to Jackie Robinson.

“If you have [courage], if that’s part of your makeup, you can be a lot of different things,” Maddon said before Monday’s Braves-Cubs game, a makeup from April 15 when Jackie Robinson Day was celebrated around the Major Leagues. “But if you’re lacking that one quality, it’s very difficult to include the rest of the better qualities in life. [Robinson] is all of that — he speaks to courage and I’ve always respected that about him.”

Although before my time, his fearlessness was felt not just through sports but all walks of life. An important day.

Atlanta is one of those teams to beat. The Cubs had a difficult time yesterday but came through in the slugfest even though it wasn’t enough. The team moves to Atlanta for the next three games.

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Cubs Get Crafty With Brewers

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The Cubs have won three in a row after yesterday’s 3-0 shutout of the Brewers. Jose Quintana put on a masterful display in front of the chilled Wrigley crowd. With the win, the Cubs are slowly climbing to the top of the National League Central division.

“You have to be able to win games like that, low-scoring games,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We had not been able to early on, we just weren’t pitching well enough, and now we are. I know it was beautiful blue skies, but it was cool out there and the wind was severe. Today’s game was pretty much determined by the elements.”

Perhaps that was the reason of the Cubs struggles early on this April. The good news is that May is around the corner, great weather is coming and the Cubs will be able to gain some valuable ground when they face the Cardinals next weekend.

The Cubs have the Brewers number with four shutouts this season.

“I felt good,” Quintana said Saturday after his best outing of the season. “My stuff was really good. I’m happy we are winning. Tomorrow, we will try to keep going.”

The great thing about the win is that Quintana went deep in the game. Seven innings, that’s the magic number that I believe pitchers should be able to perform at in order for their respective teams to effectively get to October.

Over the past week, the Cubs rotation has been able to do just that and while allowing their bullpen to be healthy and ready to finish.

It was also great to see Kris Bryant back in the lineup after missing four games due to his concussion.

“It was nice to be back out there,” Bryant said. “It was just another ballgame. I felt really normal. It’s really weird: You take four games off, you feel like you’re a little behind.”

The ironic thing is the Cubs were winning while he was nursing his head. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want him to be off again but this is Cubs nation and weird things happen.

“It kind of puts things in perspective a little bit, because we’re out there and everybody wants to get hits and RBIs and home runs and feel great about themselves,” Bryant said. “When something like that happens, you have to take a step back and realize that this game could be taken from you really quick and really soon and unexpectedly. It’s really important to enjoy the game as much as you can.”

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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 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.

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Cubs Drop First Series in Miami

Marlins 6, Cubs 0

Well, that’s not exactly the way the Chicago Cubs envisioned their opening series to end with a 6-0 defeat at the hands of the Miami Marlins. To start with, and I’m just pointing out the facts, the Cubs went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

Um, you can call that opening series jitters, but 1 for 9 isn’t that good. That’s definitely one area to improve upon. Yet, I don’t feel the Cubs are in trouble yet. It’s just frustrating it’s the Marlins, which by the way, appeared to have slightly more Cubs fans in attendance than Marlins cheerleaders.

“Quite frankly, we could not have hit the ball better than we did,” Maddon said of Sunday’s game. “That’s the most incredible shutout I’ve ever seen in my life. Give their defense a lot of credit. They covered a lot of ground in the outfield; they made some plays in the infield. For zero points, you cannot hit the ball any better than we did. That might have been the best-hit shutout I’ve ever seen.”

Now, if that doesn’t sound like the most optimistic words of a man trying to open his own restaurant in Chicago, that’s a pretty darn good sales job of the Cubs. The way I see it, there’s a huge difference of someone going to the driving range and hitting a bucket of balls and sinking it into the cup. Maybe the Cubs used the Miami series as batting practice for their division rivals Cincinnati Reds this afternoon?

“It’s just one of those things,” Anthony Rizzo said. “History shows we don’t play well in Miami. We split. Move on from there. … Overall, I thought the contact was good.”

It could have been one of those fluky things. Jose Quintana pitched very well and the Cubs hit the ball all over the place but baseball is baseball and sometimes you’re not going to get those runs.

It’s a little disappointing from baseball’s third highest payroll but like any good Cub, they’ll lick their wounds and move on.

“The whole game changed in one inning,” Jose Quintana said. “A couple ground balls and the double to Anderson — I think that [pitch] was a little up. It happened and it’s frustrating.”

Yup, frustrating is the key word, especially to this super hyped Cubs fan that waited all winter to see this day. Cubs fans love story book endings and so far this year, the Cubs have gotten off to a rocky start. Perhaps it was just an April Fool’s joke and they’re going to come out in Cincy with bats blazing and pitches popping( don’t know what that means exactly but man, it sounds awesome.)

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Cubs Find No Joy In WrigleyVille

Part of the beauty of baseball and any other sport for that matter, is that there has to be a winner and a loser. To say that the Cubs shouldn’t have been in the NLCS this year would be wrong. They won their right to qualify for the World Series but last night’s 11-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers showed fans , sport writers and the Cubs brass just about everything they needed to know about what went wrong with the Cubs during the first half of the season. It also should everyone just how mismatched the Cubs/Dodgers series was in the first place.

“It’s a disappointing season that we didn’t go to the World Series,” Chicago pitcher Jon Lester said, “but whenever you get on the plane to go home or get in the car to go home, you have to look at the positives, and the positives are we gave ourselves a chance. It didn’t happen this year. We got beat by a better team. You’ve got to tip your hat sometimes.”

There’s that tipping of the hat again. No, the Cubs shouldn’t tip their caps. They should be saying ,”Thank you” to the Dodgers that this was done in five games. It was fitting that a three time Cy Young winner was facing a pitcher, who’s name wasn’t Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks or Jon Lester. It was Jose Quintana. A pitcher that looked like a deer in headlights after the first inning.

“The better team won over the course of these five games. They played really well. They kind of out-pitched us and everything else. So give them credit. Dave Roberts and their entire staff, I just want to say, ‘Congratulations.’ [We] know what it feels like coming off of last year — we were celebrating versus them in this exact same spot. So they’ve had themselves a spectacular year, and I want to wish them all well in the World Series.” Joe Maddon said.

As I do too. They dominated the Cubs in every category. When the guys like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant can’t get it done; then there’s problems. Someone asked me yesterday what my prediction was for last night’s game, and I told them,

” You have a three time Cy Young winner going against a team without their best starting pitcher, their top guys in a hitting slump and a closing ace that’s unavailable; David had better odds against Goliath”

Which they replied,”That was a story and David won”

“No, this is baseball and numbers don’t lie.”

Of course, I was hoping the Cubs would in some miracle, win and move on but in a way, I’m glad the season is over. The Cubs need to lick their wounds and concentrate on next year. I’m proud of the team, their accomplishments and look forward to spring again. When everything is new and hopes and dreams are a clean slate.

“As a team, we know it’s an accomplishment to get to where we’ve gotten to,” Ben Zobristsaid. “But after what we experienced last year, this is less than what we wanted this year. At the same time, you have to recognize how tough a year it was for us. We kept battling and were able to win our division and win the Division Series to get here. I think the Dodgers were just better. They played a phenomenal series and we didn’t. We have to keep our heads up. We kept battling together and stayed together.

Casey At The Bat

by Ernest Thayer

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.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that –
We’d put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they’d a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.

#ThatsCub

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