Cubs Are A Royal Pain In Kansas City

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Though try as they might, the rain delay couldn’t stop El Mago from creating, well you guessed it, a little magic in Kansas City as the Cubs went on to defeat the Royals 3-1.

“I was so mad [at my at-bats] plus the rain delay — you can ask ‘Stroppy’ about my attitude,” Javier Baez said. “I struck out twice, and not that I struck out, but it was pitches way out of the zone. This is the first time I played here so I was really excited to be here. I like the field — it’s really big. I was trying to control my emotions. After the rain delay, I went out there with a different attitude and being patient.”

I think that’s the difference between an MVP season and not an MVP season, is patience.

“[I told him] ‘You’ve got two more at-bats,'” Pedro Strop said. “‘We’re playing this game, and you’ve got two more at-bats. I want you to go 2-for-4. Don’t tell me anything, you’re going 2-for-4.’ I was kind of screaming at him. ‘Wake up, man. Wake up. We’ve got a game to play and you’re the man. You’re going to get two base hits. Watch. Let them pitch. Let the ball get close to you and hit it.’ That’s pretty much what it was.”

It’s not a secret amongst Cubs fans that Baez’s play has garnered him some MVP talk but when the new guys come onto the team at this point in the season and they’re awestruck with his playing ability, then perhaps the MVP discussion turns real.

“Javy’s play was outstanding,” Cole Hamels said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play with a Hall of Famer behind me in Texas [third baseman Adrian Beltre] and what Javy’s able to do, he’s riding the line with that type of playing ability. It’s great to be able to have that.”

The Cubs rotation has been a see saw type of season, but with the addition of Hamels, who has dreamt of being a Cub, things have brightened, not that I’m terrified of the Cubs’ chances in October, I don’t know, they haven’t been lights out this season and could be the factor in the playoffs should the team not succeed.

“Moving it forward, I think our guys are really good and I want to believe we’ll find that magic potion at some point,” he said. “Other than we haven’t performed as well as we can, I still believe there’s a solid chance we will. … It’s about everybody, it’s about scoring points, not making fundamental mistakes. It’s a group situation and we are a team. As a group, we all have to do our jobs.”

Believe it

Cubs Start Season With Angels On Their Shoulder

Tomorrow is the final spring training tuneup for the Chicago Cubs. We know the Cubs are expected to have a season like no other. Last season’s trip to the NLCS was nothing short of extraordinary.  They beat the Pittsburgh Pirates and they pummelled the St. Louis Cardinals but the question on everyone’s mind is–

Can they do it again?

“Last year, I don’t think anyone really had a good sense of what to expect from the season,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “Theo and I, I think we were excited to bring Joe in. We’d signed some free agents. Our young players were getting closer. But we didn’t have a really good sense of what to expect. This year, I think we do.”

It’s fitting then that the Cubs start the season Monday against the Los Angeles Angels. if the Cubs are to have a heavenly season, then it all starts in Los Angeles.

Here’s how the season will go down.

Joe Maddon is one of the best in the game today. If not the best.He was rewarded with the Manager of The Year an award he richly deserved. His on the field decisions and ability to keep things grooving along whether it be a zoo or a magician during practice, the guy makes players and fans feel at ease. Hell, I  want to buy Joe a round. Next time you’re in Toronto!

So, the players know that this season is going to be a special one indeed. Jake Arrieta  is the reigning Cy Young winner and Kris Bryant will follow up his Rookie of The Year campaign and try and make it better. Although it’s an award he’ll never win again, he’s got bigger and brighter things ahead.

“I don’t want any of the guys to take it for granted because where we got last year is special,” catcher Miguel Montero said. “Not many guys can actually enjoy that. … I don’t want them to feel like it was easy to get to that point. This year’s going to be challenging for all of them.”

The Cubs have so many options at their disposal. They can put Dexter Fowler, Ben Zobrist or Jason Heyward in the leadoff if they wanted to, their rotation is solid with “Who’s number 1?”

“You can always make an adjustment,” Maddon said. “Whatever you do the first couple of days, you might see something differently or like better, you just do it. There are nice choices.”

That’s the big difference the Cubs have this season that they didn’t necessarily have in other years.

Choices.

Monday is going to be a special day. It’s the start of a journey for the Cubs like no other season before. Odds are on them to win the big prize. Critics are unanimous with their approval.

If the Cubs can keep their strikeouts down, then they’ll be in good shape. They led the league with 1518 strikeouts compared to 973 by the Kansas City Royals who went on to win the World Series. That is the benchmark the Cubs need to beat if they want to win.

Easy Peezy.

“We’re holding each other accountable,” Bryant said. “I think a lot of that comes back to how we ended last year. We didn’t end the way we wanted it to end, and this year, we’re going to do all we can to go even further. … I’ve never been around an atmosphere like this. It’s exciting.”

You don’t know the half of it.
“Ray. People will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. “Of course, we won’t mind if you look around”, you’ll say, “It’s only $20 per person”. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh…people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”

James Earl Jones “Terrance Mann” –Field of Dreams

Believe it.

There’s No Chip On Jon Lester’s Shoulder

 

Jon Lester

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

If over 15 000 fans can jam into Sloan Park for a preseason game against the current World Series champions squaring off with the, um, next World Series champions, that says something about the popularity of the Chicago Cubs. In fact, the Cubs set an attendance record as they defeated the Kansas City Royals 5-2.

As the lineup is getting more and more like the one we’ll see on Opening Day with the likes of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler and Jason Heyward the power is starting to show.

“It’s obvious just by making the daily lineups now,” Joe Maddon said “When you give guys a day off playing but the team that goes to play that day is pretty thick still. That’s what has hit home with me. … The depth is really intriguing. You need that to be successful during the course of a long season. You’re going to have things happen. No question.”

The depth is staggering. There is one question that has been nagging at me since last year–

Is Jon Lester as good as people think he is?

He’s a great pitcher, there’s never been an argument there, but his inconsistencies reared their ugly heads yesterday when he worked on his fielding. He continually doesn’t throw to first and an error led to a run.

“It’s obviously not what I want to do,” Lester said. “Once again, I didn’t move my feet. If I move my feet, I think everything’s fine.”

Lester is a hard worker. With the depth in the rotation, there’s folks who can take his spot.

There has been some concern about bone chips in his arm according to a book by Jeff Passan called “The Arm” read chapter 7.

“I’ve watched him throw several times in camp and I think he’s throwing the ball as well as I’ve ever seen him,” Maddon said. “Regarding any kind of discomfort in his arm, I’m not aware of that. Jonny’s kind of a tough guy, a quiet guy. I think he’s in a good place. Until he talks to me about his arm being uncomfortable, I’m fine with what I’m seeing.”

So perhaps that’s the reason of his inability to throw to first? I don’t know and Theo Epstein wouldn’t have struck that rich of a deal if they were concerned.

“Regardless of what an MRI shows or anything like that, you can throw a pitch and blow out,” Lester said. “I’ve been pitching a long time, I’ve dealt with different minor and even bigger things through my years. I think you can go back and look and I haven’t missed any time for any elbow problems.”

With or without an elbow issue, Lester is a great pitcher with a few quirks and those quirks could lead to problems as the Cubs make their way to October. He has to work on his throws to first base.

“Stuff like that I don’t concern myself with,” Maddon said “Just go play. A bone chip is a bone chip. If there’s an issue, you attack the issue and move on from that. I have a hard time worrying about stuff like that. Right now I think he looks great. I saw him with Boston when he was really good. I think he looks as good as he did in Boston.”

Believe it.

Cubs Take Batting Practice Against Reds

Chicago Cubs

It took a rain delay of over two hours before the Chicago Cubs got down to business against the Cincinnati Reds. They didn’t disappoint by beating the Reds 4-1.

Dan Haren got the start in what very well could be his last Major League outing(unless of course, those wily Cubs go farther in the post season)

“I’m confident I can get the job done. That said, it’s just been a pleasure being around the guys. I’ll be there with them in the dugout regardless. When my name’s called, I’ll be ready for sure.”Haren said.

Now, there’s going to be a lot of discussion about Manager of The Year. Should Joe Maddon be a lock for the award? There’s been some really good things in baseball. In the American League, AJ Hinch of Houston Astros and John Gibbons in Toronto have done outstanding jobs. In the National League along with Maddon is Terry Collins of the New York Mets and ugh, Clint Hurdle from the Pittsburgh Pirates

So, who is it going to be? Of course I’m going to make my case for Maddon. He’s been a huge part of the on field success of the Chicago Cubs, but it’s his attitude off of the field that matters to the club. He walks around like there’s no reason to have a curse or perhaps the fear of a drought hanging over his head. No pressure. He keeps things loose and brings back the fun in baseball.

“I do vibrate on a different frequency, man,” Maddon said. “I’m not worried about that stuff. I don’t understand those kinds of concepts. So, really, for me, it’s a moot point.”

And there’s the De Facto. There’s no curse, there’s no superstition and there’s no reason to not believe the Cubs have a chance to win the World Series. It doesn’t matter who the Cubs will face in the Wild Card game. They have to face someone. What makes this team so special is that I could name all the players who’ve contributed to this memorable season but it’s been a team effort in every sense of the word.  I’m not one of those fans who say,”I’m just happy they’re in the playoffs”

No.

I want them to win the whole thing. I knew they’d be good, you faithful readers(believe me, I think it’s awesome that you still read my blog) believed the Cubs would do it.

They’re not the “2014 Kansas City Royals” underdogs. They’re the 2015 Chicago Cubs and they bite.

Believe it.

Chris Denorfia Gives Fans and Cubs Reason To Believe

Chicago Cubs

Last home game of the season?

The past few days have seen some interesting milestones in an awesome 2015 year for the Chicago Cubs. First, Jake Arrieta gains his 21 win of the season and belts a home run plus almost adds another one–in one game.

Last night, the Cubs beat the Kansas City Royals in a make up game at Wrigley Field 1-0 in the 11th inning. Who got a walk off home run?

Chris Denorfia. Great things come in the strangest places.

“This is what we play for,” Denorfia said. “I’ve had the opportunity to do that one other time in my career and it’s just the best feeling. I can’t describe it. I feel like a little kid at 35 years old, running around the bases, knowing what just happened and what’s waiting for you at home plate, it’s really something special.”

The entire year is something special, Chris.

All right, so I’ve resigned myself to the Cubs not catching the Pirates. I mean, it could happen, but the scenario is unlikely. The good news that they play the Reds and then the Brewers to close out the season. The Pirates on the other hand, continue with the Red Birds before taking on the Reds.

The Cubs have the better of the two schedules and should the Cubs tie the Pirates at the end, then the Cubs will get home field for the Wild Card game.

Wouldn’t that be awesome?

“It is pretty crazy to see the plan come together in this way,” Cubs Owner Tom Ricketts said. “It feels great. It’s always the way we looked at it. I think a lot of people would say it’s maybe a year earlier than we expected, but it’s fabulous, all good.”

Every team wants to win. Wether you stick to a plan or not, it comes down to making it or not making it.The Chicago Cubs have reintroduced themselves as household names. Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrieta and Kris Bryant are putting their names into the Cubs history books of legends.

“Every day’s a happening, man. It’s every day. If you are tired at all, the fans will definitely provide some energy for you. They’re fabulous. It’s a fabulous fan base. I would imagine as a visiting team coming in here, you would find some energy, too. I believe it’s the best in all of baseball. I mean this sincerely, I feel very fortunate to be part of this. It’s not lost on me. I walk in and I get it, I get it. I’m appreciative. It’s different, and I’d like to keep it going for many years to come.” Joe Maddon said.

We get it too, Joe

Believe it.

Cubs Have A Whale Of A Time

Chicago Cubs David Ross

Nobody can ever accuse the Chicago Cubs of not making things interesting. Yesterday, while wearing their throwback Federal League Chicago Whales jerseys, the Cubs defeated the Kansas City Packers, er, um Royals 2-1.

What made this victory all that much more interesting is David Ross. The catcher not known for his hitting came through with a blooper in the 11th inning. After Dexter Fowler was tossed out in a controversial play at home plate(although from my observation, he was clearly out.)

“You gotta love the fight,” manager Joe Maddon said. “If you’re standing or sitting in the captain’s chair and you got a bunch of guys that fight like that, what else could you possibly want? We’re not going to be perfect every night, of course we’re going to make mistakes, but if you have that kind of fight every night, I’ll take it.”

What started out as a pitcher’s dream between Tsuyoshi Wada and Yordano Ventura, the Cubs played it close against the excellent Royals but it was David Ross who stole the show.

After the Royals walked Starlin Castro it was Ross’s turn. I’m not going to lie to you. I thought the Cubs were done for seeing Ross step up to the plate but—

“I knew they were going to walk Starlin when I got up there,” Ross said. “I was batting .160? I’d do the same thing. I’m playing the game out in my head, and I knew it was coming the first time, but luckily I drove that ball right in the gap in the end.”

So now the Cubs are coming off a win going into tonight’s series opener against the struggling Miami Marlins. The Cubs could make up some valuable ground but the bad news is the Cardinals are playing the Brewers. It could be a stalemate. Nobody needs to say how bad the Brewers are doing.

The six game difference is nothing. This is a different Cubs team and judging from yesterday’s game, the Cubs are still a force to be reckoned with.

Believe it.

Cubs Are in Danger of Becoming A Cliche

Chicago Cubs

In their first interleague matchup of the season, the Chicago Cubs lost to last year’s World Series finalists, the Kansas City Royals, 8-4. “We played well today, and then we broke down at the end,” Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. “They showed why they went to the World Series last year, and we showed why we’re not ready yet.” It sounds like a cliche when managers and coaches talk about not being ready for championships, but is there ever a team that is ready for a championship? I believe sometimes it all comes down to smart playing of course, but the other team’s miscues and failures.

The bottom line? On any given day, any team can beat the best. For example, Jorge Soler and Addison Russell provided the home runs yesterday. Solar connected with a two run shot and Addison Russell with a solo rocket. So it was a little too late, but when the Cubs lose they still win. They’re learning every game and I’m seeing a lot of improvement with them, not only individually, but as a team.

“It’s always a bad thing, a leadoff walk when the game’s on the line, tie ballgame in the eighth inning,”Pedro Strop said. “The walk is a big issue. You’ve got to be able to get those outs.”

And that’s where the Cubs’ wheels fell off. Notice the cliche there? It’ll be something that they’ll work on for sure but if they want to catch the Cardinals, they can’t just work on it, they have to execute those plays to perfection. The Kansas City Royals made the playoffs last season, not as a fluke but they got hot at the right moment but also their on base play saved them. That might not happen again for them. The season’s only two months in and I know I’ve been getting excited about the Cubs chances but there’s still plenty of ball to play.

“You cannot make the physical or mental mistakes, and you’ve got to make pitches in order to beat good teams late,” Maddon said. “You have to have that will to beat them, and you do that by repeating fundamentals and techniques and having good at-bats.” The Cubs look like they’re in the hunt in the likes of Ben Zobrist. What do you guys think of that? Or what if they call up Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez could be ready soon. There’s also a question of Starlin Castro. I think they should trade him.

Believe it.