Cubs Not Ready To Throw In The Towel

Kris Bryant

Sure, Kyle Schwarber hit a home run but the Cubs are below .500 Let’s put that into perspective, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016 and less than a year later, they’re a sub .500 team. Last night, the Cubs fell 6-2 to the San Diego Padres.

“We got the lead and gave it right back,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We gave up the lead, and that was very large because they did pitch well again, and we’re not hitting like we can, so it’s a bad combination.”

So, what’s the problem? I mean, they’ve got tons of All Stars and the reigning NL MVP on their squad and they’ve fallen below .500 twice this season?

Uh oh.

“We feel we have a talented offense that will be productive over the long haul that has fallen into some bad patterns,” Theo Epstein said. “We’re a little too easy to pitch to these days, which means we have to adjust. I think that’s going to come.”

When the President of Baseball Operations uses the word “adjust” he’s not talking about batting stances or infield positioning, he’s talking about something more desperate and that could mean some big time player movement. Bleed Cubbie Blue has an interesting proposal in regards to what can happen with Schwarber.

It’s not just one area of their game that’s suffering. It’s pitching and batting that’s taken a beating lately that’s only been accentuated by their latest west coast debacle.

So, if changes are coming, and you’d better believe that they will despite what the Prez says, the Cubs are in a pickle. Last night’s loss was their fifth straight and going into last night’s fiasco, the Cubs were a .500 team nine times this year all ready. Folks, check your calendar because we’re only into May.

“Not right now,” Epstein said. “You keep an open mind for everything. You have belief in certain guys’ talent. You want to find a way to manifest it. It’s valuable for guys to work through things up here.

“Not right now” Three words that can have an impact on a few players. Yeah, there’s going to be some major changes, if not subtly. Ian Happ has gone cold, we know of Schwarber’s situation.

“We don’t need everyone to get hot, we don’t need everyone to hit their projections,” Epstein said. “We just need a few guys to get going to make our offense really viable. We need time. I think over time our guys will continue to progress. When that gap exists, it’s a better position than not having the talent.”

Epstein is saying the right things now, but one or some unlucky players will not hear those words.

Today should be an interesting matchup with Jake Arrieta going toe to toe against the Padres. Whether that will transpire into a slugfest or not remains to be seen.

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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.”

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Cubs Celebrate World Series With 5 Million Strong Parade

Wrigley Field

Every champion needs a championship parade. Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs proudly displayed the Commissioner’s Trophy to an estimated crowd of 5 million. From Anthony Rizzo’s heartfelt tribute to teammate David Ross to Joe Maddon’s updated T-Shirt “We Do Not Suck”, the river was dyed blue and a chorus of “Go Cubs Go” echoed throughout the crowd.

“I’ve been around baseball for a bit,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Never, never have I experienced anything like Wrigley Field on a nightly basis, never have I experienced anything like the conversations that I have with all of you when I run into you on the street. It’s different, it’s spectacular, it’s comfortable, it’s warm and it’s the way it should be. I want to congratulate the fans and thank you for being so patient.”

The amazing run the Cubs had during October 2016 will go down in history as one of the most thrilling and exciting playoffs ever played. It was truly a showcase for the game of baseball. The accolades and World Series fever will continue with an appearance tonight on Saturday Night Live. No word on which players will appear but rumours are that Will Ferrell will appear as Harry Carey.

Infamous fan Steve Bartman was a no show but that didn’t matter. In fact, I’m glad he wasn’t there. Not because his presence wouldn’t be welcomed, he probably would have been met with hugs, pats on the backs and maybe even shared the stage with the players. His absence represented a good bye of sorts to the not so great memories of Cub-dom. We now know there was never a curse on the North Siders. It was baseball rearing its ugly head sometimes in October.

“They say, ‘Mr. Ricketts, I’m 71 years old,”’ Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said. “‘Please win the World Series before I die.’ Now, I normally say something like, ‘OK, do you eat right? Do you take care of yourself? Do you exercise? How much time do I have?’ Well, for the thousands of people who have said that to me, and are still with us, there you go.”

As the victory sinks in( yes, I’m still numb from the win) I keep thinking of how important this championship means to a lot of people. I’m a relatively new fan compared to the die hards like Al Yellon from Bleed Cubbie Blue and all those folks born in Chicago who grew up skipping an odd day of school to watch them on WGN or go to Wrigley Field, that’s what’s so awesome about this victory. The look of relief on these folks’ faces is what it’s all about.

“The one thing that’s been proven true over time, in baseball and in life, is that human beings can accomplish more for others and for the group than they can for themselves,” Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein told the Grant Park crowd.

Cubs

As for the players, the last player introduced on the stage was David Ross. The grizzled veteran who is retiring this year was honoured by a tearful Anthony Rizzo. The respect given to the 39 year old “Grampa Ross” as he acknowledged the millions.

“He taught myself personally how to become a real winner,” said Rizzo, who then got choked up. “He’s like a brother to me. He’s taught me a lot in life on the field, off the field, how to be a better person. I’m forever grateful for him. He’s going out a champion forever. For the rest of his life, he can say, the last game he played in, he’s a world champion.”

1907, 1908, 2016

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Cubs Extend Epstein’s Contract

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates

Sep 28, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

What’s not to love about the Chicago Cubs right now? Their President Theo Epstein has just signed a 5 year contract extension, they have their most wins with 101 since 1910 and they finished first in all of baseball. Even the staunchest St. Louis Cardinals fan will be turning their heads and saying,”You know, the birds might not make October, but damn those Cubs are good!” All right, I might have went too far on that one.

Last night, the Cubs fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-4 and I think what set the tone was a little squabble between Jake Arrieta and the umpire, Chris Guccione. There were a few questionable phrases that went along with those questionable calls that might have rattled the beard of Arrieta.

“He got a little upset in the first inning, and I don’t know if that took him away from throwing a good game,” Miguel Montero said. “I really thought he had good stuff going on. I don’t know what happened. Did it feel like Spring Training? I do believe that, and that’s not a good feeling for a pitcher or a player, knowing you’re going to play four innings, five innings.”

Perhaps Joe Maddon was giving all of his players a rest last night but yeah, it felt like a different ballgame, not the usual fire that the Cubs bring to the park. The fire was burning for Arrieta after the game. He was mad and I could tell just by the way he stared down Guccione after the altercation in the first inning.

“I don’t think you know how hard this game is unless you play it,” Arrieta said. “I feel I can have another season like that. People have done it before. Why can’t I do it? I can do it again. So, yeah, I appreciate it. But at the same time, that’s what you strive for. That’s why you work hard. You go out and you try to perform that way.”

There was some good stuff that came out of the loss. Anthony Rizzo knocked his 32nd home run into the stands and there was an odd switch of positions between Rizzo and Ben Zobrist but last night felt odd for this normally dominant Chicago Cubs team.

I like the stability that the organization is bringing to the Cubs. Signing Theo Epstein to an extension sends a clear message that they want this roller coaster ride to continue. The Cubs have become the class of the major leagues and to think that before Epstein was there, baseball was still reticent to look at stats and numbers when drafting and signing players. Embrace the change, that’s what Epstein brings to the table.

“This has been a wonderful environment in which to work, in which to build, in which to make great new friends and stand shoulder to shoulder with some amazing people from the top to the bottom of the organization, as we try to accomplish something that has a lot of meaning to all of us in the organization. I’m thrilled with the decision, I’m thrilled with how things have gone.” Epstein said.

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Cubs Celebrate Division Title

Miguel Montero

The man who struggled all season long and was in danger of missing out in October came through yesterday. Miguel Montero clobbered the ball in the 10th inning with a home run and give the Cubs a 5-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Then the party started.

“This is what we work for,” Montero said after spraying champagne in the clubhouse and dancing with his teammates. “A lot of people play for many years in the big leagues and never get that chance to experience something like that. It’s a great experience and great feeling. I’m proud of every single guy on the team.”

The Cubs officially clinched the National League Central Division yesterday in style. Everybody was talking about it being inevitable but for the Cubs to clinch this early is still a remarkable achievement. For the players, the Chicago Cubs hardworking staff who tirelessly work their butts off every game day to ensure that all of us fans have the ultimate experience at one of baseball’s most hallowed grounds, and us fans, it was pure bliss seeing the Flying W wrapped around the players in their celebratory photo shoot. Hell, Theo Epstein watched from the stands.

“Normally we’re in a suite and it’s very standard type of deal, where we’re watching the game and keeping an eye on things. To enjoy the real Wrigley Field and sit out there, feel the breeze, be among the fans, have a beer, it was wonderful. Even better than I thought it was going to be.” Epstein said.

Anyone who’s had the privilege of going to Wrigley Field agree with what he said. There’s a rumour going around that David Ross walked the neighbourhood after Thursday’s loss in search of the Giants/Cardinals game. When he found a spot to cool his jets with a beer, the bartender recognized him and proclaimed, “Shots all around!”

That’s what the Chicago Cubs have meant to the fans in Chicago and abroad. It’s been such a cool season and they can very well coast the rest of the way, but why should they? The next step is first overall.

In fact, it was extremely fitting that the Cubs won in that way. To come from behind and a walk off home run. That’s the Cubs’ way.

“The camaraderie, the chemistry, even hanging out outside the field, it’s really a close bunch of guys,” pitcher Kyle Hendricks said. “It’s a special group of guys. We have veteran leaders, and a lot of great young players who just put the work in. Humble guys, all they want to do is come to the ballpark and win.”

Come to the ballpark and win. That’s a great attitude and one that was very different a few years ago. It was a few years ago when the Cubs just wanted to compete with the best, but now it’s to win.

“This is unique,” Maddon said. “I’d heard it before — [a player told me] everybody should be a Cub at some point in their Major League existence if they had the opportunity. There’s nothing like it. … To play here under these circumstances, in this ballpark, with these fans is different in all the best ways.”

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Cubs Have Some Serious Questions

Theo Epstein

The trade deadline is coming up and there’s been a lot of discussion involving Kyle Schwarber. I’m going on record to say that I hope the Cubs do not trade him. What happened to Kyle at the start of the season was unfortunate with his season ending injury but the team has endured.

“Kyle is a huge part of our personality and our culture,’’ Epstein told USA Today. “It wouldn’t be right to trade him.’’

Of course we know money talks and rightfully so that he shouldn’t be discussing any trade deals. My take on a possible Aroldis Chapman deal is that the Cubs should not go for him. Sure, he can throw a 105 MPH rocket but his off field drama would probably weigh too heavy on a young Cubs organization. His arm would be a huge asset to a struggling Bullpen but at what cost and he would more than likely be a rental player.

Bleed Cubbie Blue has an interesting scenario should the Cubs deal Schwarber, it involves Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer. It would work. The only reason the Cubs would trade Schwarber is due to his defensive abilities. He struggles a bit but nobody is disputing his plate approach, the kid has the tools.

The trade deadline is less than two weeks away and there are many questions to be answered. The Cubs have built up a lot of prospects that they have at their disposal should they be in the market to acquire some more firepower at the deadline.

“We also haven’t touched certain parts of our prospect inventory. That will keep us really viable for every opportunity that’s still out there between now and August 1. Sometimes you can be in an uncomfortable spot if you haven’t done anything and you’re sitting there July 31 – August 1 this year – waiting for a ‘yes’ or a ‘no.’ It’s hard not to throw that last player in just to get a deal done if you haven’t done anything. It’s something to fall back on. It gives you the ability to say ‘no’ or draw a line if you need to. But it also keeps all our opportunities open. The prospects we moved weren’t in any other deals that we were talking about. We haven’t touched the prospects that we were potentially going to move in some bigger deals that didn’t come to pass and may be resurrected in the future.” Epstein said.

Right now, the Cubs are looking at an easy schedule when they face the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago White Sox back to back. if they want to make up any ground and lay the foundation for October, this is the time to do it. Dexter Fowler should be back sometime this series.

“It’s important that they send a strong message to the team,” veteran catcher David Ross said. “You have to (with) a team that is in first place and was four wins away from going to the World Series last year. You’re looking at the big prize at the end of the season.”

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There’s No Hope For The Chicago Cubs

It might be a game about millionaires playing a child’s game, but there’s more to it than that. There’s more to it by watching the Chicago Cubs this year.

Baseball is like no other sport when it comes to history. I got to thinking about this while writing yesterday’s post. It transcends wars, famine and hate. It’s been there through the good times and the bad times of America and the world. It’s brought us heroes like Ted Williams and villains like Alex Rodriguez and just like every story includes conflict, it’s the underdog we love.

No underdog story is greater than the Chicago Cubs. They used to be a powerhouse, they used to be a dynasty and in the days of 1907, 1908, there was a poem written about the exploits at the time of baseball’s most fearsome team.

These are the saddest of possible words: “Tinker to Evers to Chance.” Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds, Tinker and Evers and Chance. Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble, Making a Giant hit into a double— Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble: “Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

a poem written by Franklin P. Adams of the New York Evening Mail about the fearsome play of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance.

Baseball is steeped in legend, lore and myths. From “Say it ain’t so, Joe” to Babe Ruth’s called shot.

It’s a magical game that keeps fans, critics and enthusiasts coming back for more. The Cubs have an opportunity to break the Curse of The Billy Goat this season. They can rewrite history with a Russell to Zobrist to Rizzo or Kyle Schwarber can call his shot into the stratosphere. Whichever way it’s going to go, 2016 is the year of the Cub.

Everywhere I go, people give me the thumbs up about the Cubs chances. Of course, this can all end in heartbreak as fans have seen before. This season is different. Theo Epstein, Joe Maddon and Jed Hoyer have built a squad rich in sabre metrics as well as carefully planned trades and drafts. This season Cubs fans don’t hope for a World Series championship.

“We picked up where we left off. What they mean is the tightness of the group and the feeling among the group and the fact that we can win, and we are winners.” Maddon said.

The Cubs start tomorrow as winners. If last season’s Championship Series showed us was that they’ve been there before, the young Cubs have a taste of it and they won’t let that slip through their claws again. Theo Epstein is the architect behind those Boston Red Sox teams.

No, the Cubs have no hope anymore. For once in a 108 years they–

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