Root, Root Root For The Best Team

Image result for don cherry

I always get excited when the Toronto Blue Jays get together with the Chicago Cubs. They’ve only played each other a handful of times since the Jays inception but seeing the fans at packed Wrigley shows just how special Wrigley Field is to everyone. This year especially, this series is important to both teams. The Jays are a few back of the Wild Card while the Cubs are out to put distance in the National league Central Division. Yesterday, the Cubs won 4-3.

“The game ebbs and flows all the time. That’s why it is a beautiful game and a terrible game at the same time. You are going to have your good weeks, your bad weeks, good days and your bad days, being able to stay even and keep fighting through it is important,” Ian Happ said.

It’s a must win situation for the Cubs on this stretch where they’re playing last place teams. After the Jays, they’ll play the Reds again before heading to Philadelphia to face the Phillies.

There were a lot of Blue Jay fans that travelled to the game, some from Winnipeg and even Canadian legend, Don Cherry sang the seventh inning stretch. Traditionally, the guest conductor would say, “Root, root root for the Cubbies” but Cherry didn’t want to disappoint Jays fans or get chased out of Wrigley Field so he opted for the safe approach of, “The best team”

“In this ballpark, you have to hit home runs, and we haven’t hit one yet,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “We pulled it close, another close ballgame — they snuck a ball through to put them on top — but I thought we pitched very well. The bullpen guys came in, and it just wasn’t good enough today.”

It’s also difficult with the inter league games where teams have to adjust their strategies to accommodate the ballpark and it showed with the Blue Jays. Again, the Cubs got stellar pitching from Jose Quintana.

“I thought Quintana was really good today also. It just seemed to me like better command. The last game he had a lot of fastball misses in. He was getting that pitch here today for a strike, curveball was definitely more pertinent today. I didn’t see a lot of changeups. But I saw him pitch with his fastball well and accurately and did a great job,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

But the star of the day belonged to Ian Happ.

“Acclimation-wise, he’s done pretty darn good,” Maddon said of Happ. “The thing he’s done well is when he hasn’t played. It’s almost like Javy [Baez]. He observes, he never complains about anything, he stays ready. … He’s like Javy was. Javy would sit and wait his turn, and when it was his turn, he’d be ready for that moment. Happ has done well, really well.”

Today, it’s the Professor’s turn to stymie the Jays.

Believe it.


Cubs Go Back To Back To Back But Come Up Short

Trying to put a positive spin on yesterday’s almost come from behind thriller is proving to be a difficult task. The Cubs were down by eight runs but connected on 4 home runs in the 4th inning to climb back but eventually were downed by the Reds  13-10. Those are the kind of losses that are hard to take. On one hand, you have to applaud the Cubs on their comeback attempt but also have to shake my head that they couldn’t crank out the win after whacking all those home runs, even going back to back to back!

“We lost the game,” Alex Avila said. “It would’ve been great if we would’ve won that game. A game you’re not supposed to win, you end up winning is a better story. It’s a loss.”

That’s exactly what it is against a division rival that just happens to be in last place. After Jon Lester left the game giving up 9 runs, the Cubs went to work.

“When a pitcher of his stature is potentially injured, of course, you’re concerned,” Joe Maddon said. “Let the doctor see him and go from there. Right now, I’m not going to jump to any negative conclusions.”

It could just end up being related to heat tightness or cramps but hopefully it’s nothing more than that.

It was great to see Ian Happ have a multi homer game. The Cubs rookie is having a great season, if not under the radar as compared to others around the league, he’s fit into the lineup well.

“When you’re playing at Wrigley and the wind is blowing out, you always feel like you have a chance, especially with our lineup,” said Happ, who notched his third career multi-homer game. “To go back-to-back-to-back there and put us back in it, we gave ourselves a chance.”

Today is a big day as the Cubs begin a weekend series against the Toronto Blue Jays, who are struggling but are only three games out of the Wild Card spot. It’s an afternoon series with Jake Arrieta kicking it off today.

“I’ve gotten on that plane many times after a loss, still good food, but there’s no doubt you want to leave feeling good,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “The lows in this business last longer than the highs, I know that for a fact. But we have to turn around, day game [Friday] … quick turnaround, but there will be energy there with the World [Series] champs. It’s a great place to play.”

Oh, and @LenKasper ‏ don’t forget to ask Don Cherry who is favourite hockey team is, I bet it’s the Bruins.

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Cubs vs Blue Jays World Series?

Chicago Cubs

Tonight, the Chicago Cubs will find out who they’ll play in the NLCS. Will it be the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Washington Nationals? I’m taking the Nationals. The Cubs played better this season against them. If only because of that four game sweep back in May, the Cubs are going to have an easier time. Sure, the nationals are stacked but the Cubs are better defenders and I’m trusting in 2016’s playoff hero so far, Javier Baez.

Max Scherzer is pitching tonight so he won’t be ready for Saturday. There’s Dusty Baker managing against his old team and we all know what happened last playoffs at Wrigley when Dusty was in a Wrigley dugout? Speaking of superstitions, I think the Cubs have finally chased whatever superstitions haunted them. This being the season of ghosts and unusual occurrences, that last game 4 between the Giants/Cubs wasn’t so much about curses or anything but we were watching a team dig down deep and fight their way back.

“I think the biggest thing is nobody really cares in there about a curse or a goat or anything else,” Cubs pitcher Jon Lester said. “If we make a mistake, we’re not going to blame it on a curse or anything else like that. We’re going to blame it on ourselves and be accountable for it and move on to the next play or the next moment.

“Plus, I think we’ve got too many young guys in there that don’t even know what that stuff is,” Lester said. “It’s almost better to play naive and just go out and worry about us, worry about the Cubs, and not anything else in the past or, like I said, any animals.”

I hope Daniel Murphy decides to not go bear hunting this fall.

Cubs in 5

So, should the Cubs move on to the World Series I’d love to see them go up against the Toronto Blue Jays. It’d be a classic matchup that would rival the Giants/Cubs NLDS. Imagine Edwin Encarnation vs Kris Bryant. Jose Bautista against Anthony Rizzo or Addison Russell taking on Troy Tulowitski?

The Cubs are so evenly matched against the Blue Jays that it would take on epic proportions. I’m not tempting fate, just daydreaming. Neither team has played each other this year, which would add to the suspense of the series. “Canada’s Team” vs the Chicago Cubs.

Cubs in 6

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Cubs Looking To Wrap Up NLDS


The Toronto Blue Jays swept their first series in history and move on to the ALCS and for Canadians, it couldn’t have been a more Happy Thanksgiving then seeing Russell Martin have the game winning hit that sent Josh Donaldson home.

The Chicago Cubs and Jake Arrieta are making plans to head to the NLCS if they can wrap up their series against the San Francisco Giants tonight. Arrieta will be facing Madison Bumgarner at 9:38 pm eastern. We all know that Arrieta is the reigning National League Cy Young winner but this year, the emergence of Kyle Hendricks and the solid Jon Lester have pushed Arrieta into the three spot on the depth chart.

“I’ve had these moments in the past, and it’s just something you really want to relish and try to embrace and enjoy as much as you can,” said Arrieta, who went 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA in three postseason starts last year. “You play the long season — regular season — to get to this moment, to have these types of opportunities, and you prepare and you move forward accordingly and try to take care of business. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Tonight’s game is part of the puzzle that Theo Epstein has put together. The dramatics will be intense and I’m sure Bill Murray will be dancing in the stands. Joe Maddon is the perfect manager for tonight’s game. He’s loose and intense, fun and strict all wrapped up and sporting those Buddy Holly frames.

“There’s a power in letting the guys be free and play kind of without any restraints and thinking [about] things,” David Ross said. “He wants you to kind of just play the game, almost like in Little League. When you make mistakes, which we have done all year, you learn from them, try to teach and move on. These guys continue to grow. … There’s a continual growth, and that stems from Joe.”

That’s exactly what he brings to the table. Looking at guys like Kyle Hendricks who looks almost like he should still be playing Little League, the Cubs team is deceptive. However, tonight the Cubs are going to have their hands full against a Giants team that’s struggling to remain in the series and although Arrieta hasn’t had his best season after his award winning 2015 campaign, he’s focused, rested and ready.

“Well, from a numbers perspective, I would have liked maybe to be a little bit better,” Arrieta said on Sunday. “But at the same time, [I] took the ball every five days, had a lot of great things throughout the season to be excited about. … I’ve prepared the same way from start to finish and really like the process and trust the stuff moving forward, and know that it’s more than good enough to have a lot of success for this team in the postseason.”

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Cubs Looking To Put The Past Behind Them in NLCS

Kyle Schwarber

The NLCS is all set after the New York Mets defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 yesterday. This is somewhat great news for Cubs fans because the Cubs went 7-0 against New York’s better half. It doesn’t really matter what the record is because it’s the playoffs.

“That’s over with,” catcher Miguel Montero said. “You can’t rely on that or say, ‘We swept this series against them,’ or, ‘We did this against those two guys.’ That’s over. I think the Mets are a totally different team. … The Mets have Yoenis Cespedes — they’re totally different. You know they’re all good players.”

That’s what makes baseball so special. If you’re not familiar with the Mets/Cardinals history, well it has something to do with a black cat and Ron Santo. You know what Joe Maddon thinks of superstitions.

Jon Lester will get the start on Saturday which should set up a brilliant game 2 with Jake Arrieta on the mound.

“Jon Lester in a big game is always tasty,” Maddon said. “You’ll always take that. I have no problem with that. I know he’s very confident. I think the extra rest will help, too.”

It’s fitting too because this is why the Cubs brought him aboard. So, while we looked ahead to the NLCS which gets under way tomorrow night, I want to mention a bit about a Cubs/Jays World Series.

That’s my dream matchup for baseball’s coveted prize. Both teams are coming off brilliant seasons. They’re hard hitting and very deep in their respective lineups. On one hand you have Jose Bautista who, as we know, came through in the clutch the other night. His bat flip is pretty cool as well.

Then you have Kyle Schwarber and his scoreboard landing theatrics. In many ways, the Toronto Blue jays are to the American League as the Cubs are to the National League.

“Cubs and Toronto would be nice to have,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “Canada’s really important to us. I think if you had the Cubs and the Blue Jays, you’d probably have two countries pretty fully engaged. It’d be good for us.”

Good for Montreal landing a team in the future.

For me though, it’s not about countries being engaged. The best part about the World Series unlike other sports, is it truly showcases the best that baseball has to offer. It’s a hard trophy to win and so few teams make the post season that there’s great baseball happening.

“There’s no ‘worn out’ this time of year,”Catcher David Ross said. “It’s a new season. When the postseason hits, it’s like Spring Training all over again. You get a newfound energy. It’s a young group. I don’t know how much fatigue will play into it.”

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Cubs’ Schwarber’s Ball Finds A Home

Tom Comings

Well now that the dust has settled on their historic win over the St Louis Cardinals in the NLDS, the Chicago Cubs searched for Kyle Schwarber’s infamous home run ball that many folks believed cleared the scoreboard. Well, not so fast.

It turns out the ball landed on top of the scoreboard!

Tribune Company Publishing Architect Tom Comings took this photo after the game and you can clearly see the ball came to a complete rest on top of the scoreboard. Well, they don’t call it “The Friendly Confines” for nothing because workers have enshrined the ball in a case and there it shall remain until the end of the playoffs. The gesture is similar to the 2002 Olympics with the Lucky Loonie

Tonight, the Cubs opponent will be sworn into the NLCS and it could either be the New York Mets or the Los Angeles Dodgers. Personally, I’d rather the Cubs face the New York Mets. Their regular season record is much better than that of the Dodgers. The Cubs went 7-0 against the Mets. The Dodgers on the other hand, beat the Cubs four times.

Now, that being said, the Dodgers won’t open the series with Zack Greinke or Clayton Kershaw should the Cubs play them.

The NLCS showdown begins Saturday 7:30 pm. The ALCS begins tomorrow at 7:30pm

The Mets aren’t the same team the Cubs faced earlier this year. They’re on a tear but the Cubs will be well rested.

It turns out the Cubs are favoured to win the World Series.

Ok, let me make this clear; statistics can be thrown out the window. They don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things unless it’s to satisfy naysayers and bookies.

This is playoff baseball. At this stage of the game anything can happen. Player’s performances go to a higher level and underdogs rise to the top. That’s why we tune in and that’s why Nation’s stand behind a Blue team in Toronto. In fact, I think a beer can landed in my backyard from Young Street.

Oh, and congratulations Toronto Blue Jays on that outstanding victory!

Will we see a Cubs/Blue Jays World Series?

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Cubs Are One Win Away From NLCS

Chicago Cubs

It was a record setting kind of day for the Chicago Cubs. Count em’ six home runs as they snubbed out the Cardinals 8-6. Today, the Cubs can take the series with a win at Wrigley Field and advance to the NLCS.

Ryne Sandberg threw out the first pitch, Ernie Banks sang the seventh inning stretch via jumbotron, the wind was blowing out and the rookies brought their magic.

All was right at Wrigley Field last night.

Jake Arrieta had a tough outing for, well, Jake Arrieta. He still collected the win but only struck out nine batters over five innings. He still looked awesome.

“He’s human, man,” Miguel Montero said. “It’s going to happen. I’m actually happy it happened because now I realize he’s human. I was a little concerned.”

In many ways, last night’s victory was the blueprint to Theo Epstein’s tenure with the Cubs. Three rookies destroyed the ball. Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber. Epstein was smiling along with Eddie Vedder up in the boxes.

Oh, and I just have to say that Harold Reynold’s comments about Canada and baseball is pretty weird.

“We we’re talking about foul balls in the stands up in Toronto and because there’s not a lot of people who grew up playing baseball in Canada, they’re not used to catching a lot of balls hit into the stands.” Reynolds said.

For those who don’t know, Reynolds made that comment during the Toronto/Rangers game at the Rogers Centre. I’m sure he meant as a joke which he later apologized but folks up here tended to take it the wrong way.

“I didn’t mean to offend anybody. I just thought it was just part of the fun nature of the game. Sorry, Canada, whole country, if I offended you for that. I’m well aware of the baseball players that have come out of there … It was more of a joke. Most people grew up playing hockey in Canada. I didn’t think it was that offensive, so obviously I was taken different.”

I didn’t grow up playing hockey or baseball and love both games. Why don’t I switch this around and say, “Most Americans grew up playing baseball.”

See Harold? Most Americans didn’t grow up playing baseball. It’s just lazy journalism.

It was just funny, that’s all.

The great news about today’s game is Kris Bryant ended an eleven game drought. Could we see some more from him today?

“When Kris stands in the box, even if he can’t swing the bat, him just standing in the box, his presence alone means more to this team than anyone can imagine,” Anthony Rizzo said.

Today, is the most important day at Wrigley Field in a long time. Jason Hammel gets the start. I’m a little worried about the pitching tonight but I have a funny feeling that the bats will speak loud.

Believe it.