We Don’t Need To Be Buyers or Sellers. We Need To Be Keyzer Soze.

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I had an amazing trip to Chicago this week. Flew in to O’Hare Airport on Sunday afternoon, caught the make-up game against the Rockies on Monday, doubleheader against the Giants on Tuesday (day game was another PPD make-up) and then flew back to New York on Wednesday. One win, two losses, a ton of robot unicorn attack plays and a pink, pink sunburn to show for it. Incredible way to spend your days indeed.

Is there a place where apple juice and peanuts taste better than in a coach class seat on a Delta Shuttle plane? I venture to guess no. No, there is not. Sitting there, next to my Delta neighbor on our way to the Windy City, she ordered cookies and a Coke. I had the peanuts and apple juice. Cookies and coke? This is a flight. You’re 40,000 feet in the air. Have the apple juice and peanuts and ride like a king, or queen in this case. Some people just don’t know what they’re missing.

On the flight there and back I was reading a book I picked up recently, ‘Veeck, As In Wreck’. Fascinating tale of Bill Veeck, Jr’s time as a true baseball man working his way up the ranks from selling programs at Comiskey, to owning his own baseball team. The things he would do to draw a crowd to the park and the promotions he would run to add entertainment value to the paying customers’ experience were at times hilarious and usually brilliant. Reading the stories brings you behind the curtain and into the mind of Veeck where anything is possible and not everything is what it seems. Home field advantage was taken to a new level, raffles were rigged for the highest entertainment possible and one time he even made it appear as if it had rained hard enough to postpone a game by three hours even though only a couple drops had fallen. As long as he was doing all he could to keep his team/business running, the team winning and the people paying, he was happy. Baseball minds of that time didn’t always appreciate Veeck’s strategies however these same people that were against some of his practices were also the folks that would be included on a long list of people who either took a long time to see past the surface or never quite got there in ending up ‘getting it’.

Monday’s game against the Rockies was a make up game for a contest that had been postponed back in April. I like it when people call baseball games a ‘contest’. It’s certainly a contest where your odds are pretty good of winning. Think of all the contests you’ve entered in your lifetime. I bet you would have taken 50-50 odds every time. I enjoy it because it seems out of place and it never ceases to amuse me. It is a game. You play the game. You win the game. You lose the game. You don’t have a contest. Sure there are many contests within the game. Who can get the other team to 27 outs first? Who can score the most runs? Who can tally the most hits? Who can keep their starting pitcher in the game the longest? Who will win the battle of the stolen base, the runner or the catcher? There are lots of contests going on within the game. However, baseball is a game. Not, a contest.

The game was incredible. It was threatened by rain once again in the early morning however the skies cleared up in time to hit up the local bagel shop and down a quick cinnamon raisin bagel and coffee before heading to Wrigley. It was not necessary that the rain stop in time for me to have breakfast mind you. It was simply a nice thing to have happen, not having to worry about the weather on my way to the game.

My friend, Michael, and I headed to the stadium and picked up his ticket from will call. Will Call. Another term I’m not so crazy about. Why not ‘Will Pick Up’? ‘Will Call’ sounds like they will call you. I am pretty sure that baseball teams don’t have people on stand by to call you up if your ticket is left in the Will Call booth a few innings into the game to see if you’re on your way, need a ride, or want to arrange for someone to bring the ticket to them somewhere. I mean, those ticket fees and service fees are high enough where I could see justifying such a service being in included, I simply don’t believe that is the case.

We immediately hit the snacks before heading to our seats. Michael hit up the peanut guy. I went straight for the nachos. Now, if Michael was on a plane at the time, I would have commended him for making such an outstanding decision. The fact that he was at a baseball game, I could also appreciate the choice given that it’s such a traditional game-viewing snack companion. Only Cracker Jack could have earned the same response. However, while I enjoy the occasional bag of peanuts and cracker jack at a baseball game when at Wrigley, you always start your day off with one thing. The nachos.

I’m not talking about the helmet nachos. I saw a woman walking around with what was an official MLB helmet size nacho order. It was covered in cheese and jalapeno and looked like it was about to kill someone, namely the woman carrying it back to her seat. No, not those nachos. I’m not suggesting you bring tofu, but come on people. Let’s not try to kill ourselves at one game, in one inning. Let’s let the unhealthy food get us over time. Take in a few years of Cubs baseball before you completely jam shut your arteries. No, I’m talking about the regular nacho. The most delicious treat in all of baseball. The Wrigley Nachos. Not sure why they yell out ‘I need a cold nacho’ when I order them because while the nachos are cold and the jalapenos aren’t included…the cheese is HOT. For about 10 minutes that is. In that 10 minutes though? Find your seat at Wrigley Field (especially where I was, section 110…best seats in baseball) and experience the best 10 minutes of your life. Delicious.

The woman that sat us in our seats was named Lenore (above) and she was very friendly. She fit the Confines perfectly. She was amped to find out I was sitting in her section as her son’s name is Ryan as well. He also lives in New York. It was like a paying customer/section valet match made in heaven. Lenore was awesome and the Cubs should be proud to have her on board. Mr. Ricketts, if you are reading this, Lenore is the best. She said she loves working for the Cubs and it showed. Good people. Just saying.

The Cubs then went off on the Rockies pitching like in no other game I have seen all year. An amazing welcome and kickoff to the three games in two days trip I was on. Ten hits, including four home runs later (two a piece by Ramirez and Pena) and I was proudly singing ‘Go Cubs Go’ louder than Michael would have cared to hear. Here is a picture of my victorious pose after the game, transformed into what it would have looked like had someone commemorated the event with a collector’s coin:

Campana was in center. DeWitt was at second base. Otherwise, the line up was what the Cubs and Cubs fans thought we’d be getting this year all along. And the results were just as ideal as well. Without all the injuries, this team could have been firing at this level of cylinder all year and who knows where we’d be in the standings now. Once this team stops limping, they will be exposed for the team they truly have been behind the DL lists all along. I believe that. It’s coming and it’s going to be fun to watch.

We need to stop limping around and start competing. Byrd is on his way back, slowly but surely. Barney is back. Zambrano went out with lower back pain today so who knows where that is headed and Cashner is still working his way back. If this team is able to stop limping around and show the world their true self, much like Kevin Spacey did as Keyzer Soze at the end of The Usual Suspects, I like our chances in making a true run of it very much.

While we are limping around though, Tuesday was more of what the team has presented as of late and it was more of the usual suspect play.

The World Champion San Francisco Giants were in town. These weren’t the Colorado Rockies. It was the Freak, the Panda and the Beard. Before the trip I figured Garza was our best bet at a win. Other than Garza, we were going to see Doug Davis against the Giants and then Rodrigo Lopez as well. Unfortunately I was right. The first game was beautiful with seats in the shade and more amazing nachos. After that it was downhill from there as the Giants destroyed the Cubs. The night cap didn’t go much better and I walked out of Wrigley with a trip record of 1-2. Forget trying to win three in a row (which is what I wanted – would have been the team’s first time this season). I would have been lucky to see either Davis or Lopez walk away with the W. In both the Tuesday afternoon game and the night cap, a five-run inning would prove to be too much to handle. A controversial call at the plate helped blow one of the games, but overall, we just weren’t as good on Tuesday as we were on Monday.

I thoroughly enjoyed singing Go, Cubs Go and belted out the seventh inning stretch at all three games like nobody’s business. You have to though, right? You’re at Wrigley Field. The greatest stadium in all of baseball (sit down Mr. Gammons, you’ve had your say). You’re there watching the Cubs on a beautiful weekday afternoon and as was the case on Monday, the Cubs just put on a power display to excite the masses. How do you simply sing any song in that situation? You don’t. You belt it. I did. And it was awesome.

While I was in town on Tuesday, I had a chance to meet with Kevin Saghy, the Cubs’ public relations and marketing specialist. Like Lenore, you can tell he loves working for the Cubs. It was great to thank him in person for what he and the Cubs did for my son Rhys when he had his surgery this past December. If you haven’t already read the story about it on Cubs.com, you can check it out here. I encourage you to check out the link as it’s a great example of the Cubs going out of their way for a fan in a way that is certainly not required, but very much appreciated.

As I write this, the Cubs are tied with the Giants 1-1 in the top of the 12th inning. Rami came through huge with a solo shot to tie the game in the ninth and change the momentum of the game after the crowd saw Zambrano leave in the second. Kerry Wood is due back off the DL tomorrow. The team I watched Monday is the team I believe this team can be on a regular basis. The fact that Zambrano went out with pain so early and yet the team hung in to shut out the Giants the rest of the way and then tied it to go to extra innings shows that we’re not giving up today and shows well as far as the rest of the season is concerned, too.

The team is slowly getting a few key guys back and I’m happy to hear Hendry isn’t planning a ‘fire sale’ just yet.  The trade deadline isn’t for another month. Stranger things have happened than a ballclub coming back from being down 11 games on June 30th.

We don’t need a fire sale. We need the team to stop scrambling to find the missing pieces on the depth chart that are going to keep this thing together. We need this team to stop limping and show it’s true colors. We need this team stop messing around, get on a run and show what it’s truly capable of. We need it to show that we have one more good run in these veterans and that we’re not really the limping team the fans, league and media have followed so far in 2011. We need it to prove that the team is much, much more than that.

We see that happen…and the rest of the league won’t know what hit ’em.  Go Cubs Go!

(And ‘Robot Unicorn Attack’? If you’re not familiar with it, click here. I’m addicted.)

See You On Monday, Section 110!

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Looking forward to catching the make up game against the Rockies at Wrigley on Monday! Looks like we’re getting Garza on Monday in the make-up match-up. Tuesday will be loaded with Cubs baseball as well. Doug Davis will get one of the two games and possibly Lopez or someone up from the minors to get the other. I’ll be at the stadium for both games of the doubleheader. Three games, two days. Can’t wait! (You’d think the best shot to win is Garza against the Rockies on Monday and not Davis and Pitcher X against the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants. However, as we saw in Boston at Fenway, it doesn’t always work out that way! Seriously, can’t wait!!) Go Cubs Go!

http://twitter.com/croquet037/status/82196088148332544

Baseball’s Never Been, Never Will Be ‘Just a Game’.

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Now that I got the stupidity of the day out of my system (see the “article” that follows this one…they can’t all be gold), I thought I’d take this space to write something much less ridiculous.

The game of baseball is something I hear people complain about way too often. Not so much from those who are fans of the game, although those people have their complaints as well (strike zones, realignment, All-Star Game intricacies, instant replays, the DH, asterisks, Series throwing conspiracy theories, etc). I’m talking more so about the people who only take the game for what it is on the surface. Nine innings. Twenty seven outs. Nine players. A ball, a glove and a bat. Some dirt, some grass and unpredictable weather.

“It’s boring”.

“It takes too long”.

“Nothing ever happens”.

And on, and on.

What these people fail to recognize is what the sport is aside from the score sheets. Aside from the box scores. Aside from the record books. Beyond the greatest ballplayers of all-time, their stats and their plaques. More than Cracker Jack, peanuts, hot dogs and beer. The cold April games, the cool Fall nights and the scorching Summer afternoons.

Beyond all of that. If you look beyond all of that, you will find a game that provides great opportunity. Not only in fame and fortune to those who play it. Not only to the parents who share the joy of the game with their children. Not only the fact that the game has been there as a distraction during times of war and as a sense of normalcy after national tragic events. The game is all of that and more. The beautiful thing about the game is that you don’t know when something amazing is going to happen and the fact that the possibility exists for something incredible to happen is there all of the time. And I don’t mean simply home runs, no-hitters, walk-off victories and perfect games.

I’m talking about the game as a venue to do some good. It serves as an amazing platform to raise awareness on a number of social issues and to raise funds for organizations looking to find cures for a long list of illnesses.

I recently featured a Youtube video with Brian Wilson and Cody Ross of the San Francisco Giants teaming up with Keenan Cahill. Cahill is a favorite on Youtube and has accrued millions of views for his lip-synching videos. The Giants teamed up with him to help raise awareness for Maroteaux-Lamy disorder (the disease Cahill suffers from) and to help raise funds for Cahill’s family who face medical bills for Cahill for prescriptions that are often extremely expensive.

Another article I recently posted described what the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) accomplishes with it’s hard work year in and year out. This past May, they honored the Ricketts family and the Cubs at Wrigley Field with their highest honor, the Best of Illinois award. With Ron Santo a huge part of the Cubs’ family for decades and having suffered from diabetes his entire life, the organization and the Ricketts family have been huge proponents in raising awareness and helping raise funds to find a cure.

When people show up to the ballpark all year long, often between 2-3 million people per season per team, those fans are capable of doing much more than simply voting their favorite players into an All-Star game, willing a game-ending strike out, or singing Sweet Caroline. If given the right opportunity, they make a difference in areas that matter way more than what happens on a baseball field. They can in fact help fund organizations that are working day and night to find cures. You think seeing the Cubs win the World Series would change your life? Think about if their mere existence helped build an opportunity for complete strangers to unite and fund a cure for a disease you or a loved one has suffered from or passed away because of. Now, that would really affect your life. And you’d have more to show for it than just a commemorative SI issue and a sweatshirt to show for it.

Vice President Joe Biden was in town yesterday at a CURE (Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy) event reassuring folks in Chicago who support the organization that a cure is possible. Obama advisor, David Axelrod, introduced Biden to the crowd and the Vice President went on to acknowledge Axelrod’s wife for her commitment and thanked her for starting the organization. Axelrod and his wife, Susan, have worked hard to help find a cure since their daughter started suffering from seizures at the age of seven months. The city of Chicago showed up in droves. 900 people were in attendance and over $800,000 was raised. Axelrod supports Chicago baseball following both the Cubs and the White Sox. Obama is 100% a White Sox fan although has admitted to checking all scores of the day during late night episodes of Sportscenter. You know the two of them set aside their North side/South side differences when it comes to something much more important than who wins the BP Cup this season.

The baseball community is a powerful thing. When fans work with other fans, millions of people can be focused on finding a cure for one thing and that is an incredible opportunity. A friend of mine, Alison, lost her brother, Christopher, to what is known as Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) in 2002.

Christopher Donalty/DonaltyCure.com

Christopher was a talented pitcher from Utica, NY, a star player for both the Proctor High Raiders and Utica Post’s American Legion team. I can’t imagine what it was like for them to lose him so unexpectedly and suddenly. You can read more about Christopher here and find details about the upcoming CURE fundraiser the Donalty family is arranging for this September 17th.

I know how large Cubs Nation is. It’s pretty obvious…’nation’…it’s in the name. Cubs fans are everywhere. If you happen to be a Cubs fan and read this blog and are in the Utica area, I encourage you to attend and donate if you can. Even if you’re not in Utica area, this little gadget called the Internet is like throwing us all in the same backyard anyway. You may have missed the Biden and Axelrod CURE event last night in Chicago and you may only find ballot boxes at your local ballpark for All-Star voting. However, often, MLB gets involved in making a difference outside of the scorecards and I encourage you to get involved as well. If you don’t see the opportunity to get involved with CURE at Wrigley and you or someone you know has had their life affected by the disease, take advantage of the link provided above.

Baseball fans are capable of accomplishing all sorts of feats together. Yes, much, much greater than ‘the wave’.

The next time you hear someone complain about the game of baseball, feel free to kick off your argument of how great the sport is with mentions of ‘hardest thing to do in sports is hit a 95 MPH fastball’, or ‘there is no clock, someone HAS to win’ or ‘how can you not like America’s favorite pastime’. Once those arguments fail, as they usually do, throw in the fact that baseball is another great opportunity for millions of people to have some fun, unite resources and truly do some good.

I’d like to see them argue with that.

The Crosstown Classic continues tonight. Cubs/Sox at US Cellular. Davis on the mound for the Cubs. More Cubs-specific content to come. Until then, as always, Go Cubs Go! And seriously, why not root for your team to do well, while the fans step up and do some good?

Cubs Rap!

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And now, a ridiculous musical interlude. Gimme a beat…

I like the Cubs cuz they are great.

I root for them when they’re at home plate.

Rooting for Cubs is good clean fun.

I always clap when they hit home runs.

One time I went and then they lost.

I then had dinner. A salad. Tossed.

I watched the News recap the game.

I hoped they won. Still lost. So lame.

I like Wrigley and Ernie’s statue.

Stay alert. Foul balls come at you.

I like nachos. I like cheese.

I don’t like ticket service fees.

Right now the standings make me sad.

I felt that way about ‘My Two Dads’.

Whatever happened to Paul Reiser.

I drink Corona not Budweiser.

This rap is just off my head.

Had to do work. Wrote this instead.

Sorry if you didn’t like it.

Baseball’s not football. They don’t hike it.

I think Starlin Castro’s awesome.

Retire 8 for Andre Dawson.

I like the Cubs cuz they are great.

I root for Cubs when they’re at home plate.

One day I hope they win it all.

Result: twelve day Wrigleyville pub crawl.

People will be so damn happy.

Like they are when I’m done rapping.

Go Cubs.

Go.

Go Cubs.

Go.

Like getting tagged at the plate….we out!  Byrd to your mother.

I need to get more sleep.

Carlos. Cool, Calm, Collected.

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It had been about  a year prior that Zambrano displayed more rage than the machine had ever season. Like a cross between Yosemite Sam, the Tasmanian Devil and a Real Housewife from New Jersey. If there had been a dining room table next to that Gatorade water cooler, it too would have ended up in some other location than it initially started. It was a scene that put into a very loud visual, the thoughts that probably the rest of the team and fan base were feeling at the time. It didn’t turn out exactly the way Z imagined as it was a long road through anger management and bullpen sessions until he could find his way back to the starting line up.

The one-time ace found himself outside the lines of the organization after choosing to cross one. He may have spot on in his disgust and anger, however it clearly wasn’t the time, place or way to handle it.

Cut to yesterday against the crosstown rival Chicago White Sox.

Zambrano on the mound and fuming after giving up a two run bomb to make the score 3-0 in favor of the Sox. You could see it unfolding in front of your eyes. The wick was in one hand. The match was in the other. The fuse was ready to be lit and soon to follow could be another huge explosion.

Only, something different happened this time. The fuse was left untouched. The match was blown out. Zambrano kept his composure. Last year it was his teammates’ sloppy play that put him in a tough spot. This year it was his own pitching and poor location. Perhaps that was why we didn’t see Carlos explode into another lowlight for Sportscenter. Perhaps it is easier for him to forgive himself as opposed to forgiving his teammates. I mean, just recently he said in an outburst to the media that the team was playing like a AAA club and directed comments at Marmol as well. More likely? Those anger management sessions may have paid off and he is learning from his mistakes.

It was a display of Carlos slowly crawling back to the respected member of this team that he once was not too long ago. And it was good to see.

By keeping his cool, he was able to stay in the game and put forth one of his best pitching performances of the season. How many times do you recall a Cubs starting pitcher going eight innings this season? Forget Russell, Davis and Coleman. Those guys had a chance, but never really had a shot. Dempster and Garza? I can’t remember the last time I saw them end a game with a stat line that included 8IP. Zambrano could have easily put the nail in his Cubs coffin and likely the season with another meltdown like last year. We lose Zambrano and we can forget about 2011.

Yes, many of you have already started looking ahead to 2012. I don’t blame you. 9.5 games out on June 20th and still a large contingent of the team is in healing mode as opposed to reeling mode. We haven’t been able to reel off three wins in a row this year and although the rest of the Central has struggled as of late, we’ve only been able to pick up 2.5 games in the past couple weeks. Don’t be so quick to leave though. We have picked up 2.5 games in the past couple weeks.

Pujols just went down with an injury and will be out for six weeks. That should put a crimp in the Cardinals chances for sure. We lost some ground to the Pirates lately but they are coming back down to Earth. The Brewers and Reds refuse to kick it into a gear that will leave the rest of the Central in their proverbial dust. It’s still a possibility for 2011. I have no percentage regarding how likely. Just simply a fact that it’s still a possibility for 2011…only…we’ll need Zambrano to make it happen.

If the Cubs were to trade Zambrano, I would have to see it as them giving up on the season. Dempster got the starting nod for Opening Day this year thus giving him the role essentially as the team’s ace. Skill wise though, Zambrano is still the most talented guy on the squad. He hasn’t been on the DL as of yet this season, leads the team in wins and isn’t looking to ask for a trade. He has mentioned he’d waive his no-trade clause if asked, but he doesn’t want to go. Is that just political rhetoric? Is that just Z being PC? PC Z? Maybe. I believe he wants to win here. No one gets that upset about something that they don’t care about. No one gets that heated over something time and again unless it matters to them.

We’ve seen Zambrano lose it on a few occasions. He obviously cares. The good thing to take away from yesterday though, aside from the win over the Sox, is that he clearly not only cares about the Cubs winning, but he now also cares about how he directs that passion. Even if he had no one else to point a finger at, he could have easily had a mental meltdown and thrown in the towel on the day after giving up that home run early on. He could have seen the game as Apollo Creed getting the crap beat out of him by Drago…a lost cause. D.O.A after that home run.

He did not.

Instead, he saw it as an opportunity to stay in the game, keep fighting, and show people he has changed. Like Rocky said, he if they can change and he can change then the whole world can change. I would have liked to have seen Zambrano make this speech at US Cellular after the game:

That would be nice. But I’ll take us starting with Big Z first and then going from there. Big Z. Cool. Calm. Collected.

Well done, Carlos. That anger management stuff appears to be working out. Keep it up. This one’s for you.

Go Cubs Go!

Two Teams, One Cup

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It’s June 20th and you know what that means! THE CROSSTOWN CLASSIC!

Two teams, one cup.

Oh, Chicago baseball fans, how our BP Cup do runneth over.

The BP Cup is perfectly named as it means about as much as the home runs count that are hit in batting practice. Last year the Cup went to the South side. It has resided in the hands of folks like Adam Dunn, Ozzie Guillen and A.J. Pierzynski. The players, I’m sure because it is a ‘Cup’ after all, took it home with them. Took it on trips with them. Took it places some of them may even be too embarassed to share. They took it their loved ones who had never seen the Sox win the Cup since it’s inception all they way back in 2010. Every single White Sox player plus Ozzie had their hands on it for a whole year. 

Do we really want it after who knows what those guys have done with it? I mean, it was reported that on Sunday, Ozzie passed a kidney stone. I’m just saying.

If the White Sox think as highly of the Cup as many Cubs fans do, there is a possibility that the kidney stone saw the inside of the BP Cup. If there were a series they probably wouldn’t mind winning, it’s this one. Keep the Cup, White Sox. It’s all you.

You can have it. Proudly display it in your trophy case. Build a statue outside US Cellular Field to commemorate it’s greatness. Years from now, chant at Cubs fans “Two-thousand-ten!” “Two thousand-ten!” and make us feel awful about the drought.

One year since the last time a Chicago team won the BP Cup and it wasn’t the Cubs. When oh WHEN, will a Cubs fan in my family get to see the Cubs win the Cup!?! How unfair. How can the baseball gods do this to us. Why should the Sox fans get all the fun? Why should they get to raise the Cup year in and year out?

What about us Cubs fans? What about Blackhawks fans? Why must we make them be so specific in their chants of ‘We want the Cup!”. Now they have to say “We want the Stanley Cup! The hockey one! Not that crappy promotional good for nothing baseball meaningless trophy Cup!” That chant is SOOO long. But so be it. Whatever White Sox. You feel the need to have a trophy that makes you feel good about yourself? So be it. Keep it. We don’t even want a ribbon for participation.

Let’s rename the Cup in fact. No more BP Cup. Let’s just call it US Cellular Cup. Forget engraving the names of every ballplayer that wins the Cup on to it’s illustrious sides. Let’s just engrave, PROPERTY OF THE CHICAGO WHITE SOX on to it. We’ll show up for six games every season and make sure you have your little trophy so you can have some meaningless piece of metal to make you feel good about yourself.

Better yet, we’ll win the series and STILL give you the cup. Like a little kid hoping for a foul ball, standing by the dugout with our glove on next to clumsy adult-sized you. We will catch the ball and then hand it to you because in our life, the prize, as cool as it is to you, will never mean that much to us.

How’s that sound? We’ll win the series, you keep the cup. We know how much it means to you.

You’re welcome.

Go Cubs Go!

For Father’s Day: My Cubs Family Video

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Go Cubs Go! (Give us Dads out there a W to cap off Father’s Day tonight!)

Two Beautiful Views at Wrigley

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I’ll be back a week from Monday. Taking in the Rockies game on Monday and the Giants doubleheader on Tuesday. Can’t wait! Go Cubs Go!

http://twitter.com/croquet037/status/82194839965409280

Yankees Fan Wants To Know: “What’s It Like To Be A Cubs Fan?”

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If you are at Wrigley this weekend, you’ll notice the Chicago Cubs have the New York Yankees in town this week.

In my neighborhood, however, it’s always as if Yankees fans have me in town.

Walking around New York City displaying my Cubs hat this morning, I came across a guy proudly displaying a disgusting white t-shirt with the Yankees emblem on it. The fact that the Cubs took game one didn’t stop him from having a little fun with me and he wanted to know what it was like to be a Cubs fan. I said, “So far this weekend, better than being a Yankees fan”. New Yorkers appreciate a quick reply. I had no interest in talking to him any longer than I had to as I walking my dogs and he was some what sketchy. That was the end of our exchange however it won’t be the last time (nor was it the first time) that someone asked me what it’s like to be a Cubs fan while walking around New York City.

So, you want to know what it’s like? I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again.

The Chicago Cubs are the kind of life long commitment that they should sell insurance for. Think about the things that you buy insurance for to protect you from. They are for all of the worst case scenarios in life. House burning down, flood, car accident, death. They should immediately add to the list: Cubs fan.

In all of the above situations you are put out, living a situation that leaves you speechless and wondering, how could this happen to me? Why me? And when you are a Cubs fan, that happens all of the time. Follow by a quick look to the fan to your left or right at Wrigley, in a bar, at home, or at an opposing team’s stadium and asking aloud “Why us? Why us AGAIN?”

It would be the most expensive insurance of all insurances sold to baseball fans of course because we as Cubs fans would need it the most. Essentially, all other baseball fans if they too could purchase insurance for rooting for their team, their monthly payments would only exist to cover costs the insurance company would gather in paying out to help out Cubs fans. It is a brutal existence and a little insurance as a fan to add to those occasional and not-so-often insurance runs would be a great thing to have.

This team has long been called the Lovable Losers, however I’m not sure how many fans would consider themselves ‘in love’ with their Cubs as opposed to simply being ‘addicted’ to them. Rooting for the Cubs can feel like a bad habit that few are able to break. The highs are so great because they are so rare that you can’t wait to experience another and it drives you crazy that jonesing in between the highs.

The team hasn’t won a World Series since 1908 and hasn’t appeared in one since 1945. The ratio of fans who live to see the Cubs win a World Series to those that spend their life eating peanuts and Cracker Jack and then never getting a chance to even decide whether they want to get back or not…I couldn’t even begin to guess. All you can do is put on your Cubs hat and hope that you do get to see them win the big game in your life time and that things like Brock, black cats, goats and Steve Bartmans stop getting in the way. (Moises Alou would never have caught that ball by the way, just saying).

The Cubs have given us stars like Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams, Mark Grace, and on and on. Addicted or ‘in love’ with their Cubs, fans come back to root them on at Wrigley Field, visit them on the road, watch WGN, listen to the radio and hope for the best. You can learn a lot about the team in many, many places on the web. Just thought this might give you a better insight as to what it’s really like to be a Cubs fan. However, the short answer to the question tell me about the Cubs and what it’s like to be a fan? It’s awesome. (Calling Geico now to deliver my pitch).

Game two against the Yankees today. Let’s get another W before we send Z out there and the Yankees scouts start taking notes on our former ace. (Zambrano, please don’t waive your no-trade. We pull this thing to five or six at the All-Star break and we still have a shot). Get that W, Demp. Davis finally broke into the W column for 2011, Demp could do so for the first time in three career starts against the Yankees. Sounds like a plan to me. And who doesn’t like seeing a plan come together? Go Cubs Go!

The Mice Need To Continue To Play

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My boss is away for the next two weeks. She flew to France yesterday with her six month old daughter and mother-in-law and will be in Nice for 10 days. After that stretch, she will be in London for a week and then eventually back after the Fourth.

Tough gig.

Not only for her (beautiful Cannes in June and then a week long stopover in London sounds pretty good when relishing in either New York City heat, New York City rain or traveling between NY and Chicago with what has proven to usually end up in a rainy, wet forecast thus far this year) but also for me. Sarcasm within sarcasm. Like some sort of sarcasm deriviation of Inception going on in this paragraph. I think. I didn’t see it. But I hear things.

It actually is a tough gig. She must have a great relationship with her mother-in-law as traveling internationally with anyone is quite the experience and if you aren’t tight enough to handle it, it can rip you to shreds. Add an infant to the mix and you have yourself a recipe for potential disaster. Hopefully this trip goes smoothly or else it could be a very long two weeks assisting from a far in any number of situations that may come up.

In addition to writing and production gigs, I am currently working at an ad agency during the day. My desk has become the second home to Prose and Ivy. My computer at home is of course the mothership and this little nook without walls (how 2011. Away with the cubicles!) has become the satellite office. If I am not doing something that I must do then I am doing something I love to do. Two things happen during my day. I either do something I don’t want to do, or I am communicating with you.

It’s a beautiful opportunity to be able to apply a professional paycheck band aid in between gigs that actually apply to my overall writing/producing career. I get paid to make sure others do things they are supposed to do which entails a lot of things I don’t want to do. However, when I’m not having my hand forced into excel documents, shared drives, booking travel and client meetings or making the always exciting call to a car service, I have the opportunity to sit here and write or talk Cubs with you.

Of all the things I could possibly be doing as my ‘day job’ this one is not great, however it isn’t the worst possible thing either. I do what I have to do and then I do what I want to do. If I wasn’t perched at a computer all day, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to watch/listen to the Cubs on MLB.TV. Day games are like gold when it comes to April-October. Talk about an amazing way to pass the day. Twitter would be an account I merely had for occasional blog post promotion and the periodic sarcastic remark. I wouldn’t have the ability to sit here and live tweet a game or discuss the latest in pop culture with over 800 people throughout the day (currently totaling 7,777 tweets as I write this). When doing stand up, an applause break is a fantastic response. To get a retweet or a ‘ha’ or a ‘bwahaha’ or an ‘lol’ etc, is essentially the same exact thing. The Cubs have become something that is not only a love and passion of mine, but also a tool for survival.

In the age old saying that when the cat is away the mice will play, I would be one of the mice. The rest of the mice however are not the co-workers around me in there also sad non-cubed cubes, but all of the Cubs fans on Twitter. The cat is in France or London depending on when you ask me. I will have the occasional occurence of assisting from afar that will be necessary however for the most part, I am ready to play. Two weeks is a long time. And we are going to kick things off with the Yankees.

If I had the ability to, I would be showing up immediately to the block party the Cubs are throwing. I believe it is going to end up being a celebration of not only Cubs baseball, Wrigley, Cubs fans and Wrigleyville, but also the fact that we don’t face Jeter. Six hits away from his 3,000th hit sits Jeter and while it is a milestone that deserves a backdrop with historic proportions such as Wrigley…I’m very glad he will not be reaching the milestone at Wrigley.

If you were at Wrigley and Jeter reached the 3000 mark, how would you respond? I’m assuming a polite cheer in observance of his accomplishment. Thing is, that’s about as far as I could take it as I really don’t care for Derek Jeter or any of the players on the New York Yankees. I don’t like the Yankees and I would not enjoy cheering for one. I would ony briefly in appreciation of what it means to witness a moment as special as that in the grand picture of baseball history, but not because of Derek Jeter. In fact, come to think of it, I would only be clapping because it is hard to do but more so because I was there to see it. I wouldn’t even be particularly happy about it. I just would think it was cool that I ‘was there’ when it happened I guess. I would assume other Cubs fans would react the same way.

Worst case is that it would come on a game winner. How would we be expected to react if he had used his personal feat to defeat our team? I don’t think it’s fair to expect us to applaud while someone raises the ‘L’ flag. Sure it’s about the bigger picture, but we would have lost. I would then suggest Derek go inside the visitor clubhouse and eat some Fudgie the Whale cake or whatever is planned for celebrating when he reaches that mark.

Regardless, we don’t have to worry about it because Jeter is on the DL and won’t be playing the Cubs this weekend. In fact, he won’t even be in Chicago. He’ll be in Florida somewhere rehabbing. So much for those ads pitching Castro v. Jeter in the six gamers. I wonder how people who bought those plans feel. I’m guessing they are happy about it because they thought it’d be cool to see the Yankees play at Wrigley (as I think it would be cool to see the Cubs play at Fenway). If they bought to specifically see Jeter, I would think they’re pretty bummed.

That’s fine though. Let them stay home. We don’t need a Wrigley filled with bandwagon, annoying Yankees fans anyway.

The funny part to me is that it looks like Jeter might accomplish the feat in New York – only – at Citi Field.

Poor, poor Mets fans.

As if this season hasn’t put them through enough…now their stadium with no greatness to show for it could be broken in by a Derek Jeter Yankee milestone? Yikes. I wonder how THEY’LL react if it does in fact happen there. What a horrible situation for Mets fans. I would guess some would cheer the accomplishment out of respect, but, to have it in the same city, a crosstown rival doing it in your own back yard?  No thanks.

I look forward to seeing how we do against the Yankees this weekend. It’s very similar to the situation we were in when we faced the Red Sox. Davis, Dempster Wells. Essentially the same level of pitching we through at Fenway. Hopefully, being at Wrigley instead of on the road will make a difference. It was nice to take the series against the Brewers. I would like to go into another series though where I feel like we’re favored to win the series again. Four games against the Brewers was surely not that at all. The Yankees? Nope. And we just recently had that brutal road trip against the Cards, Reds and Phillies.

The season isn’t getting any easier that’s for sure. Glad to see Soriano back off the DL hitting home runs and Fukudome was unreal against Milwaukee. Hopefully, that keeps up. Doug Davis, how about we break into the win column for 2011, huh? In the Cubs situation, I’m not sure who exactly the cat would be. Maybe the cat is always the overall expectations that the city and fans put on this team to finally win it all. Considering they fell about 11 games back recently, the cat kind of went away. The good thing though, the mice came out to play.

F**K the Goat tees were made. Players looked like they were enjoying themselves. We took a series against the Brewers. It’s usually the most fun when the cat leaves and the mice can relax a bit and have some fun. Maybe the DL stints became a bit much to handle so early in the season and watching the team slide back in the standings week after week made one big fat cat for a while there.

It’s good that from what I can tell from fans on-line, the expectations have since diminished for 2011. The key is to have the Cubs recognize it, yet come out to play regardless, motivated even. Fans can give up if they’d like but the key is that Quade keeps the players focused and fighting and playing.

The Yankees are in town and expectations are staying where they are or diminishing even further. That cat’s not coming back any time soon. The cat may have gone away but this is when it can be the most fun…so, the mice must continue to come out and play.

Go Cubs Go! Beat those Yankees.

He May Be Little, But He’s a Huge Cubs Fan

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My son, Rhys, worn out by this crazy Cubs season.

Ok, it’s probably not keeping track of the DL that has him worn out. More than likely, it’s just nap time.

Regardless, Go Cubs Go! Beat those Brewers.

http://twitter.com/trmb1d/status/80428652885581824

Bruised and Battered…

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The Cubs rolled into Philly last night, not completely whole and coming off a recent eight game losing streak. A four game series against the Philadelphia Phillies isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered for a team as beaten up as the Cubs.

After a rain delay though, the Cubs bullpen stepped up and carried the team on their shoulders with 8 2/3 scoreless relief. The Cubs’ Soto and Colvin went deep with back to back homers or at least appeared as such until they reversed Colvin’s and made it a ground rule double due to ‘fan interference’. Colvin ended up scoring the game winning run in the eleventh on a Phillies error. Cubs win, Cubs win in extras in Philly. Oh happy day.

This team is beaten up physically, mentally, emotionally…morale must be lower than ideal at this point yet they continued to fight and get a win. This is an effort that you have to respect and appreciate. After going down 3-0 to a team like the Phillies early in the game, it would have been easy to roll over and play dead during and after the rain delay. They didn’t though. Youngsters like Soto and Colvin stepped up. On a team where there are many names and faces the casual fan would have to look twice to figure out who they are due to call ups to cover the injured, it was nice to see a couple names we planned on counting on before the season started, actually stepping up and making a difference.

Fans may not recognize some of these young players yet, but they will. They aren’t going to give up on the season just because they are 11.5 games back on June 10th. There is no mercy rule. We continue to play so we might as well get scrappy and fight until we run out of games to try to make up ground. Or at least until they post an ‘E’ in the games back column.

You know this team had expectations to do great things this year. I’m sure they felt, as did many fans, that a number of things would have to fall into place in order for this team to make noise in the Central this year. With all the setbacks we’ve suffered, I’m sure it’s on their mind when they get up in the morning, on the way to the ballpark, during the games, in the locker room afterwards and at home or at the hotel on the road, trying to get a good night’s rest and not focus on the negative. Pushing forward after a demoralising start to the season is not the easiest thing to do and I respect this bunch for continuing to play hard and get back in the thick of things.

Soriano, Baker and Johnson will eventually come back. Wells is here and Cashner is a ways out. Byrd is still a couple months from manning centerfield again. This team is going to need every star and no-name to pull together and get this thing done. Good to see the guys continue to push hard, even against a strong opponent like Philadelphia. Three more games to go in the city of brotherly love. Go Cubs Go! (And because the lyrics seem appropriate, a little Springsteen for you as you go on your way):

I was bruised and battered and I couldnt tell
What I felt
I was unrecognizable to myself
I saw my reflection in a window I didn’t know
My own face
Oh brother are you gonna leave me
Wastin´away
On the streets of philadelphia
 
I walked the avenue till my legs felt like stone
I heard the voices of friends vanished and gone
At night I could hear the blood in my veins
Black and whispering as the rain
On the streets of philadelphia

Aint no angel gonna greet me
Its just you and I my friend
My clothes don’t fit me no more
I walked a thousand miles
Just to slip the skin

The night has fallen, Im lyinawake
I can feel myself fading away
So receive me brother with your faithless kiss
Or will we leave each other alone like this
On the streets of philadelphia

 

Wrigley Field: Chicago’s Colosseum?

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One of the benefits to working in the city is the ability to walk to a number of places in order to kill time at lunch.

If I get an opportunity to take a lunch, I normally head out for about a half hour and can hit up Best Buy, Barnes and Noble, a food place and maybe one more stop within a few blocks. Ok, so maybe it takes 45 minutes. Nine times out of ten, if I don’t hit them all, I at least end up at Barnes and Noble.

I probably owe Barnes and Noble a ton of money. If they were able to one day scans us as we walked through the turnstile door and figure out how many pages, or how many books we’ve read without buying and then charge us retroactively for that reading, I would probably have to finance the fee. I am definitely one of the guilty parties that put Borders out of business. Barnes and Noble one day is probably going to be next.

While it’s still around though, I find myself there often. Two rows are my lunch time go-to’s. Comedy. And sports. Between the two of them, my experiences with each have largely shaped who I am today. After ‘parental guidance’, those two things have done the most to make me who I am today. I’ve watched sports for as long as I can remember and I played sports for as long as my talent would allow (that would be intramurals in college for the record). I’ve been performing and writing comedy for over nearly fourteen years. It will be fourteen years this September to the first time I stepped on stage at a true comedy club in Boston, MA. Dick Doherty’s Comedy Club. Sunday night show. Bring two friends/paying customers, get 5 minutes of stage time. I was bit by the bug and have loved doing comedy since.

I just got back to my desk from a quick trip to Barnes and Noble which is what inspired this rambling. The other day I started flipping through a couple different Cubs books and ended up purchasing Veeck: As In Wreck. Before that it was The Last Best League about the Cape Cod baseball league featuring the finest young talent in the game. I’ve read Jim Breuer’s entire book in the past month and most of Tina Fey’s while standing in the middle of the store, not far from the checkout counter. That counter is filled with people who would love for me to sign up for the Barnes and Noble Club, however they don’t seem to care if I buy any books. I mean, I do buy books, however a lot of the time, I end up remembering where I left off in a given book and just continue reading it for free day after day until the book is finished over a span of consecutive visits. (Sorry, Jim and Tina).

Today I ended up in the autobiography section. I’ve been stopping by in the past few days to read Paul Mooney’s book ‘Black is the New White’. It is fascinating. It’s all about his career in comedy and coming up through the ranks along side Richard Pryor, his best friend through that time of his life. I’m up to Chapter 25 and I plan on reading that one next tomorrow afternoon. See you then B&N (don’t close overnight, k? Thanks).

It got me thinking about stand up comedy on my walk back to work. I’m not sure what made me connect these three things, but this is what happened. 1) Stand up comedy is like the supposed survival battles of yesteryear of the Roman Colosseum. 2) The audience at a stand up show is both the crowd and the lion. 3) The Colosseum is still standing for people to admire, tour and stand in awe of. 4) If Wrigley is Chicago’s Colosseum, does that make the Cubs the lion or the humans?

It’s that last one that even to me seems a little silly and yet after being in the heat, intriguing all at the same time.

Wrigley is a long standing building that fans have traveled to from far away lands or right around the corner to watch numerous ‘battles’ over the years. We clearly go there to watch one side win and the other side lose. The weapons have been replaced by balls, gloves and bats and the ‘players’ are now all human, the rules are different but the fact remains that it’s still a ‘battle’ with one side winning and one side losing. (It amuses me to think that instead of a W or L flag flying at the Colosseum to let people know who won that day, they’d have a human flag and a lion flag to fly).

The thing I can’t figure out is, who would I have been rooting for at the Colisseum. Would I have been rooting for the human to win, or pull for a mauling by the lion?

Is that wrong? I just honestly am not sure which outcome I would prefer. Which victory would have sent me home happy? And in this silly analogy, then, which would the Cubs be? The humans…or the lions?

Sad part is, when the day comes that Wrigley Field is no longer needed to house Cubs games, I don’t believe it will still remain. I think any owner that decides to tear the place down is going to hear it from the fans, however, that day might just be inevitable. The Colosseum remains and you can tour it and take in it’s grand stature and imagine the battles that once happened there and the crowds that once showed up to take it in. No, I’m not really implying that Wrigley Field’s bleachers, rooftop partners or grandstands are anything to literally match up to that of the impressive architectural accomplishment that is the Colosseum. Simply, stating that Wrigley is the venue, as was the Colosseum to the Romans, to see our ‘battles’ of today on the baseball field. I just can’t figure out who of today is the lion and who is the human.

Of course, back then, you only got one out. Heck, you probably only got one strike on you by the opponent and the game was over. Especially if the opponent was the lion. No calling time and stepping out of the box opportunity available there.

I understand the comparison and question is silly, but this is what happens when I’m outside too long in 100 degree heat I guess, wihtout lunch. Still, I’m curious. in this ridiculous heat induced scenario, if we are to say Wrigley Field is our Colosseum, then who are the Cubs? The humans? Or the lions? And out of curiosity, which side do you think you would have been rooting for?

(I need to get a sandwich and some air conditioning, STAT).

Go Cubs Go!

Zambrano, You Can’t Just Say Anything

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While I agree with what Zambrano said, I’m wondering if there is any Filter Day in the anger management course he took last year. He’s been great for two months of the season, but it seems as if the frustration of April and May has already got to Zambrano and he is starting to lose it. His outburst, directed at Marmol about his pitch selection to Theriot against the Cardinals and the overall play of the team has caused some waves. I would imagine a viewing of Hangover Part II might not be all it takes for this team to get back on track. Sure, Carlos loses it sometimes. Sure, you need to understand it’s just Carlos being Carlos. Sure, he was right.

He was?

Yes.

Zambrano is correct. This team needs to play better and he has been a victim. Aside from his team’s overall record, his individual record has been affected by the lack of ability of the bullpen to close out games (specifically Marmol). Thing is, you can’t just fly off the handle. I mean, you can…but it’s probably not going to be as effective as you hope it to be.

Carlos, thing is, you need to figure out the fact that you can’t just say anything. More often than not, it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. I hope his apology is effective with the team, I really do. In case it isn’t or it happens again, I’d like to suggest the Lloyd Dobler approach. Perhaps the next apology Carlos makes could look a little like this:

And sound a little like this:

Suggested tunes to blast on his boom box:

“I’m Sorry” – Patsy Cline

“If You Don’t Know Me By Now” – Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes

“Bad” – Michael Jackson

“Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” – Elton John

“Oops, I Did It Again” – Britney Spears

“Apology Song” – The Decemberists

“Hard to Say I’m Sorry” – Chicago

Any other suggestions to give Carlos? Feel free to pass them along.

Go Cubs Go!

Se7en Straight – ‘What’s In the Box (Score)!?!’

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If this Cubs season was the movie Se7en and today was the final scene, I would be the dishevelled Brad Pitt character, my beloved Cubs would be played by Gywneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman would represent MLB.com and Kevin Spacey would represent the Cubs schedule/DL.

Lately, every day I log in to check out a box score, it’s a nasty confirmation of what I keep hoping isn’t really happening. Watch the Cubs go down injury after injury. Watch the Cubs lose game after game after game after game after game after game after game. Seven in a row? Seriously? Is my fear of seeing this season spin completely out of control actually happening? We’re not dead in the water already are we?

I like to think that no, no we’re not. Garza came back and after one rough outing, we must be getting closer to his true value/quality in his second outing, right? I mean, that’s what happened with Wells. He came back from an injury and got rocked in his first game back, however, his second time on the mound after coming off the DL was much better. And isn’t a Zambrano outburst old news by now? Wasn’t it tantrums and outbursts and thrown hats and beat up catchers and dugout outbursts and smashed Gatorade coolers that played a role in spurring us on in previous years? If you look back, won’t you also find that in the box scores?

The schedule is killing us right now. Injuries put us in an extremely vulnerable position and now the schedule is simply killing us right now. Already in a not-so-ideal situation going into the previous homestand against the Mets, Pirates and Astros, it was our performance that let us down. We could have had a 7-2 home stand however we ended up playing below expectations and looked pretty horrible. We couldn’t have had the Mets at a better time. The Pirates were locked in a tie with us in the standings before pulling away. The Astros were essentially calling shotgun for the cellar of the division.

Now?

Now, we are only a game ahead of the Astros, barely keeping our stuff out of the basement of the division. The Pirates have unfortunately listened to my post about needing some space, only instead of allowing us to leave them behind, they have done just that to us. Ricketts recently said the only thing that is wrong with this team is injuries. Byrd, Johnson, Cashner, Soriano, Baker. He has a point. However, it’s the guys that are playing that are letting me down. Colvin is hitting around .088? With the opportunity he has been given with the injuries to Johnson and Sori, he needs to be stepping up. He was practically number seven or eight on the organizational depth chart when it came to the outfield just a couple weeks ago. How is he not taking advantage of this opportunity?

Barney and Castro continue to be dependable despite brief lacks in production for each. (Everyone is going to have a small stretch of poor at-bats every now and then). Montanez and Campana are fun to watch, like a side show at the circus or Tomorrowland’s Carousel of Progress right at Disney World. Glimpses into the future of what could be is what it is supposed to offer, however when you go and check out, you feel like you’re seeing more of the same. And Tomorrowland has an excuse, it’s ride is ancient. Montanez and Campana are young kids with, aside from speed, talents that aren’t necessarily offering anything this team doesn’t already have (ok, youth would be on that list as well).

Perhaps this team is simply too old. Perhaps that happened in the winter of 2008. Perhaps Piniella squeezed what little success juice was left in this bunch of vets before heading off to his Tampa orange grove, leaving Quade with nothing but bloody pulp.

Perhaps Quade had all the potential he needed and the ability to take this squad to the type of performance record they reached at the end of last season. Then again, they do say to only weigh March and September with so much salt. Now that we’re seeingthis team go at it from April on, maybe those that made that saying one of those unwritten rules to live by have a point.

It’s good to hear from the Cubs’ beat reporters that the team is still trying to stay loose. Heard mentions of them watching Hangover 2. I believe Hangover: Part 2 will do the trick (although I haven’t seen it yet, the first is HYSTERICAL) and it is also appropriate. This seven game losing streak has provided all of us with quite the hangover.

Now is not the time to give up. It’s only June 7th. We aren’t even half way through the season. Quade needs to keep these guys fighting. No letting down, anything is possible. (Not saying likely, just possible). Time to find where Doug (Davis) is (the way he is pitching this year, his skills may have been killed by Crystal Meth tweakers), become the three best friends there ever, ever was and get everybody on board in one Cubs wolfpack. It doesn’t even matter to me if any of them can remember it the next day or Zambrano goes so far off the deep end, the Cubs end up with Mike Tyson’s tiger in their clubhouse!

Perhaps it’s the seven game losing streak that has me ranting from Se7en to The Hangover. All I know is that I’m ready to stop being afraid of finding out what is in the box (score). Even when I already know what is there.

Go Cubs Go. Please take the upperhand away from John Doe now. Thanks.

ROAD TRIP!

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A tough stretch is coming up for the Cubs and I am not talking about that of the seventh inning variety (as depicted below…a taste of my beautiful singing chops. You’re welcome).

No, I’m talking about something different altogether. Grab a sandwich, your iPod, a PSP, a road map, charge your cell phone and grab your road jersey. It is time for a ROAD TRIP!

When you are swept by the Astros and go 3-6 on a homestand that involves only playing the Mets, Pirates and Astros, you have to be disappointed. Thing is, it’s tough to be surprised due to all of the injuries the team has had to endure lately. The simple fact that our DL could defeat most teams on any given day (you get what I’m saying) says a lot about the talent that we’ve had taken from us so far this year. It’s tough for Quade to fully execute his strategy when he constantly must substitute out proven talent for wide-eyed youngsters from the farm system.

Having Wells and Cashner go down was one thing. You could hope the offense would pick them up. Then however, we started losing position players and then it got really tough. As a result, we are currently 8 games out in the Central chasing everyone  but the Astros (who are only two games behind us, mind you).

This upcoming week presents great power for the Cubs. Tomorrow they kick off a road trip that has them playing two division foes plus a powerhouse in the National League in the Philadelphia Phillies. The Mets beat the Pirates today after being down by seven runs, so we know anything is possible. I’d like to see that go in the Cubs’ favor in this upcoming 10 game trip through St. Louis, Cincinnati and Philly.

Both the Cardinals series and the Cincy series are three gamers.

Three opportunities where the power is in the Cubs hands to take games away from the lead in the standings. The power to make up ground in the Central with every game they play. Division games present that opportunity. However, as Spider Man taught us, with great power comes great responsibility. (That and being bitten by a radioactive spider has it’s benefits).

If we don’t win these games, we will set ourselves up for a hole that could prove to deep to recover from. The first six games of this series are the ones that truly matter given the opportunity they present. I hope we win them, or at least a majority of them. It’d be a horrible situation to walk away from two situations that caused us to lose major ground in our own division, simply to be rewarded by a four game series with the very tough Phillies.

Garza is due back on the road trip so that’s good news. Soto is back already. I wouldn’t count on much more than that except maybe Ramirez making an appearance, stitches and all. Cashner was moved to the 60-day DL, Byrd is still about six to eight weeks or more away, Soriano won’t be ready to go in any of these games and I’m not sure when Baker gets back. We are a beaten team but I like to think we are a resilient team. The fight doesn’t stop with us and Quade needs to make sure that’s the case through the entire road trip.

When I am at Wrigley in a few weeks, I want us to be no worse off than we are now. Ideally, I’d like us to be a couple games better.

If you are going to be at Wrigley for the make up game against the Rockies or the double header against the Giants, let me know because I will be there too! I can’t wait. Looking forward to catching more games at Wrigley and seeing us do well against two NL West powerhouses. A day/night double-header at Wrigley? What a perfect way to spend a day.

Last time I was there, the Monday game was a close one as Sori pulled us within one run with a bomb in the ninth and then unfortunately the Tuesday was rained out. The Rockies game is the make up game though so I’ll get to see that one and then the double header…will make for a ton of ballpark food, 7th-inning stretching and a ton of Cubs baseball. Awesome.

Here are some photos of the last couple games I saw at Wrigley. Various random shots, hope you enjoy. And if you are at Wrigley June 27 or June 28, let me know! Gotta love a road trip…prove me right Cubs and let’s have a great week and a half. It’s going to be tough, but it certainly won’t be boring! Cardinals, Reds, Phillies. It starts tomorrow in St. Louis. Check out the slideshow and Go Cubs Go!

Castro on Wrigley

Prosecard from Cubs Nation – Anna Weddell

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Today’s Prosecard interview with a Cubs fan features none other than Anna Weddell! She loves Ryne Sandberg, has great analogies for pairing up current Cubs players to the cast of the Wizard of Oz and should be working for Miller Lite’s advertising department!

Check out her answers to the questions below. If you’d like to be featured on Prose and Ivy in an upcoming Prosecard, please email me at maloney_ryan@yahoo.com and I will send you some questions!

Huge road trip coming up for the Cubs…more on that later today. For now, enjoy your lunch hour with Anna Weddell, fellow Cubs fan and today’s Prosecard from Cubs Nation!

Name:  Anna Weddell

Why are the Chicago Cubs your favorite baseball team?
I have loved the Cubs as far back as I can remember.  My grandpa was a die-hard fan and taught me all about the Cubs and Wrigley Field.  My grandpa was my hero, my mentor and the main person in my life, so whoever he cheered for, naturally I would cheer for.  My fondest memory is getting picked up from kindergarten and coming home to watch the Cubs on WGN.  My first song wasn’t taught by my family, but by Harry Carey during the 7th inning stretch.  I love every new season because I have hope and wonder, Could this be the Year!!  The Cubs have always been in my life and they always will be.

Who is your all-time favorite Cub?
So many to choose from, but I would have to say Ryne Sandberg.  When I was younger I did not want to be him, I wanted to be his double play partner.  That way I could be on the same field as him every day.  As soon as I could play softball, I played shortstop with the dream of playing for the Chicago Cubs.  He was a great 2nd baseman.  He hit for average and power and seemed to make all the routine plays and then made some not so routine plays.  He was my hero. Luckily for me, I was at the game when the organization retired his number.

Who is your favorite Cub on the current roster?
Kerry Wood.  He is a great ballplayer and doesn’t play for the money.  With all the injuries he has suffered through the years, he persevered to become a good set up man.  He is just someone to admire.

Bigger disappointment of recent years:  Soriano or Zambrano?
Soriano.  When the Cubs first signed him, I was excited because he could bring great things to the ball club.  So far, all he has brought are injuries and shaky defense.  Granted when he is hot he can carry the team, but he is cold more often than he is hot.  He swings at bad pitches with runners on, he can’t steal bases anymore and he does not hustle.  At least with Zambrano, we know what to expect.  Sometimes he will lose his temper, but that has always been Z. I would much rather have Z pitch in game 7 of the World Series, then have Soriano up to bat with the winning run on second.

Which Cub do you believe is the biggest game changer?  
Starlin Castro, because he is good a good hitter.  Quade can put him anywhere in the lineup and he knows what his job is in that spot.  He can steal bases and run the bases well.  He takes his fair share of pitches.  He can hit for average or drive in a lot of runs and hit for power.  I think he will be making a few All-Star appearances in the future.

What were your thoughts when news came out about Cashner and Wells going to the DL? 
My first thought was: Crap, two young pitchers are down with arm injuries and will be out for at least 15 days.  My next thought was Please do not let Samardzija start.  He is not starting pitcher material in my eyes. Finally, my last thought was, if the pitchers replacing those two can keep us in games then the Cubs will be okay.  Just get the game to the late inning bullpen guys and we will win more than we lose.

You are Dorothy.  You are traveling down the Yellow Brick West Addison Street with three Cubs as the Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow.  Which Cub fits those roles the best?  Who would be playing each and why?
The Lion would be Zambrano.  He has been a fan favorite and then has had his crazy outbursts at the fans.  He talks a big game in Spring Training and normally does not achieve what he had set out to do.  But he keeps fighting and pitching well.  This year he seems different to me, more genuine and calm.  I think we expect him to have his meltdowns and he needs all the courage to not have any and if he does ; apologize and admit that he was wrong. The Scarecrow would be Kerry Wood.  He has been in the league a long time and can teach the young guys in the bullpen a thing or two.  He also has been a favorite since he came up from the minors.  Injuries then started to pile up on him and some fans, myself included, washed their hands of him.  I did not think I would ever see him wearing Cubbie Blue again.  He has the brains to know that the North Side of Chicago loves him. The Tin Man would be Marlon Byrd. He hustles every play. Plays an excellent center field.  He seems to do everything right.  That is what you want from your big money players.  Hustle, good at-bats, great defense and strong knowledge of what the situation is at any given time.  Some players seem to forget that the fans are the ones that pay to watch them.  Marlon seems to go 110% all the time. He has heart and passion and everyday he puts on the uniform he is going to try and win.

You are head of marketing for Miller Lite and must come up with a catchy slogan for the beer ad addressing the visiting team.  What would you have the sign say for the following teams:  Mets, White Sox, Cardinals, Phillies, Yankees, Brewers?
This was one of the hardest questions I have ever had to answer.  
Mets:  Who wants to place some bets, that we will sweep the Mets.
White Sox:  You can put in on the board:  Another Blown Save
Cardinals:  Hey Pujols, Hope you like pinstripes and Cubbie Blue
Phillies:  Tell Sandberg we said Hi
Yankees:  Good thing the wind is blowing out because the Bronx Zoo is in town
Brewers:  The Brew Crew is doomed we are ready to bring out the brooms

You are able to play catch with one player to ever wear the Cubs uniform.  Who would it be and why?  
Ryne Sandberg because I grew up watching him and I think he is a great guy.  He is a HOF 2nd baseman and would have some great stories about his playing days. He would teach me things and I would just enjoying learning from him.

Do you believe the Cubs are cursed?  Why?
No, I do not believe the Cubs are cursed.  On any given day any team can beat another team.  That is why they play the game.  Sometimes I feel that the Cubs players try too hard in the postseason.  All the players want to end the drought. If they would just play like they did to get to the postseason, they might have a chance. There is no curse, I think it is lack of preparation.  Every team brings their A game and they face the best pitchers and some of the best hitters in the league.  The Cubs just need to have good pitching and defense and the offense will follow.

Which players on the current roster are you excited when you see their name in the lineup and who do you hope doesn’t leave the bench on a given day?
I am excited to see Castro and Barney at the top of the lineup.  They get the offense rolling.  When they are on base, the Cubs will score runs.  The middle of the field is very young but very good right now and I enjoy watching them play every day.  The players I do not want to see are Koyie Hill and Blake Dewitt.  Neither of them have proven to me that they can help the ball club on a given day.  As back-ups they fill the spot but never as an everyday starter.  We have too much talent at 2nd and catcher for them.

How do you feel about Quade over Sandberg?  
At first I was upset about the job going to Quade, but the more I thought about it, it was the right decision.  Sandberg is a hero on the North Side, our HOF 2nd basemen.  He would get cheers at first, but if the club started going south, would fans turn on him, like they do with every other manager.  Anybody can sing the praises of a winning manager but would the North Side still love #23 if the Cubs were horrible?

The Cubs win the World Series and you have to write the headline for the Tribune.  What does it say?
Holy Cow! The Cubs Win it All!
Hey Hey, it might be, it could be it is A Championship for the Chicago Cubs!
Let the Country Celebrate, The Cubs have reached the Promised Land!!

What is your prediction for the Cubs in 2011?
4th place, it is sad to say but I do not think the Cubs can compete with the Reds, Cards, or Brewers.  This team is young and they are rebuilding this year, so 4th place is the best I see them doing.  If they prove me wrong that would be great.

Thanks, Anna! Stay tuned for more on the Cubs’ upcoming trip through St. Louis, Cincinnati and Philadelphia! Go Cubs Go!