Didn’t see that coming

Dailies

Today’s broadcast of Prose and Ivy Cubs Blog Talk Radio went really well I must say for the first live broadcast.  I didn’t get word out nearly early enough for people to know about it, mark it on their calendars and call in.  But the technology is really cool and I think it’s going to be a blast to do in conjuction with the written aspect of Prose and Ivy.  I’ll be sure to let you all know when the next broadcast is going to be well in advance this next time so you can call in and share your thoughts.  Talk radio is a whole lot cooler when people call in…er, even listen for that matter.  Next time, more advanced notice for sure.

What I didn’t see coming, was the final score of Reds 7, Cubs 5.  Sonnufa….I swear.  I left my apartment and it was 5-5 going into the top of the ninth inning.  Marmol was in and I figured we were good.  I can’t believe he walked two in a row.  That’s the real surprise.  Sure, Marmol has a tendency to be a little wild.  But his stuff his undeniably nasty and I stand by it that he is the Cubs best option for closer and should have been the guy since Opening Day 2009.  Going into 2010 I also believe he should be the guy.  Unless he happens to be taking off guys’ heads like Rick Vaughn did to wooden displays of batsmen in Major League, honestly, he’s our guy.  So, I’m on the talk show boasting about Marmol being the guy…I hang up (the show is recorded from your phone)…I look at my email and there’s a message with the final Cubs score….Reds 7, Cubs 5…loser?  Marmol.  Sonnufa…well, whatever.  I don’t know…we didn’t deserve to be tied in the ninth anyway.  Unbelievably poor support of Wells today.  Unreal.  If it’s not inconsistent hitting, it’s poor fielding.  Our starters can’t catch a break.  Read an article on Cubs.com today that reinforced my comments on air regarding quality starts from our rotation this year and how our team’s bats have pretty much taken them and thrown them away, never to matter again.  It’s really unbelievable when you think that our starters have a 3.76 ERA and we’re on the cusp of being eliminated from playoff contention, whereas last year we won the division with the same group of guys basically, and they had an ERA of 3.75.  Two solid years from the rotation.  Two very different results. 
Whatever moves are made in the off-season, I hope they revolve around studying how clutch guys are and what they’re average is with guys in scoring position.  I hope that is taken into great consideration.  That, and speed.  Maybe if we can find a couple guys with high OBP’s with some speed and timely hitting, maybe THAT will put this team over the top.  Maybe it’s not a ‘left handed power hitter’ that we need now or really needed this past off-season.  Maybe it’s simply a couple of speedy small ball guys to jump start the offense and fill in the necessary grind in between the large bats we already had on the team who are paid to go yard.  
I don’t know.  I just know that as soon as I saw the email with the final game result with Marmol as the loser, I just said out loud “well, that figures”.  Left my apartment to do the radio show as they were entering the top of the ninth.  We had overcome an inning filled with three errors early on to tie it up and now our most reliable bullpen guy was on the mound.  I thought, hey, this looks good to me.  Went out and put out a passionate plea to anyone who would listen to make Marmol the guy from here on out and through 2010.  Bam. Two walks and a double.  Reds win.  Marmol loses.  Didn’t see that coming.
Also didn’t see this coming either…apparently a pretty cool sports blogger conference that happened in June in NYC.  Another one coming up in Vegas in October.  My wife was upset that I watched 5 innings of Cubs baseball on my honeymoon one afternoon (she got over it and was cool afterwards, but at first…not so much)….imagine if we’d been married in October and I snuck off to this?  Now that would have made for an interesting radio show.  Check it out, pretty cool concept.  Hope to catch the next one next time they do it in New York.

Cubs v. Reds again tomorrow at Wrigley.  Mr. All-Star Theodore Roosevelt Lilly on the mound for the Cubs.  Go get your W Teddy Mustwin (see a couple of posts below this).  Go Cubs Go!

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Prose and Ivy on-line Talk Show Today 3pm CST!

Dailies

Hey Prose and Ivy readers/Cubs fans…today features the first episode of the Prose and Ivy Cubs internet talk show and you can listen in by clicking on this link.  The show details are listed below.  Hopefully there aren’t any glitches because I haven’t used the system before…we’ll see! Feel free to call in and talk Cubs baseball!  

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The listener call in number is 347-855-8243.  Unfortunately our special MLB guest has had to reschedule so we’ll have them on as a surprise at another time.  But lots of great topics to discuss regarding the Cubs anyway….tune in, call in…Wells on the mound today against the Reds….Go Cubs Go! (UPDATE: The pilot show has been recorded and is ready for you to listen to now….click play on the Prose and Ivy Cubs blogtalkradio.com player in the link list to the right and check back for upcoming air dates SOON!  And for accuracy’s sake, when I say ‘bottom of the ninth’ I actually meant the top.  Ok, that’s it…enjoy!)

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Again

Dailies

The Rockies have surged their way to a last at-bat victory once again and matched the Cubs sweep of the Pirates with a sweep of the Reds.  

Unbelievable.  Bring on an eight game series with the Rockies right now and let us sweep.  That may be the only way we make up enough ground to take this thing over this year.  And you know how likely that is.
Unbelievable.  Cincinnati….you disgust me.  Thanks, for nothing.  Have to keep winning or else we’re definitely through.  They sweep September and we sweep September, more power to them.  Finish strong like Lou says, our only remaining option.  Day to think about it tomorrow.  Come Friday, we need to keep this Cubs W streak going.  Go Cubs Go!

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Top 9 on 9/9/09 and not a bad 9 today at that

Dailies
“We’ll always have Pittsburgh”.
I say that a lot here, but it always hold true.  Swept the Pirates today and it feels good to see the Cubs have that kind of success on the road.  But, you know then again, of course we did.  We’re supposed to beat Pittsburgh.  We’re supposed to win when Zambrano pitches.  Even post-DL Zambrano is still supposed to be a victorious Zambrano.  Outscored the Pirates by 10 runs over the past few days including a record tying performance of getting eight straight hits to start a game.  Incredible, but like Lou asked, ‘where was this all year?’
Maybe a little too late….like Lou’s pep talk.  It’s apparently lit a fire under the Cubs but now instead of controlling our own destiny, we need to rely on sad teams like Cincinnati.  They haven’t done us any favors this week against the Rockies as they keep losing and the Rockies keep matching us result for result.  At this rate we’ll gain no ground and that’s what’s so frustrating.  Relying on teams that can’t hold a light to true contenders is no way to spend September.  Yet here we are…we need to keep winning though in order to have a shot at grabbing the wild card.  The Reds are currently up 3-2 in the top of the ninth so we’ll see.  Would be nice to pick up a game tonight though.
Not sure why the media is making such a big deal over today’s date, 9/9/09, but they are.  Last year the Olympics started on 8/8/08.  Cool, but that was the Olympics.  You know what today is?  Just Wednesday.  Anyway, MLB.com took advantage with a fun opportunity for fans to select the best all-time hitting performances in a season for players at all nine positions.  Even for the Cubs, it’s not as easy as you’d think.  Cubs fans should fill it out and let me know how you voted.  Here’s how I voted:

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What do you think Cubs fans?  Would you vote differently?  Why?  I’ll break down my rationale over the next couple days.  Wanted to get this out there today though while it was still 9/9/09.
Off day tomorrow, then back at Wrigley, Harden vs. the Reds.  Let’s hope Cincy can do us some favors there and fall to the Cubs the way they gave this past series to the Rockies.  Go Cubs Go!
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Seven Ate Nine

Dailies

There is an old children’s joke that reminds me of this Cubs season. 

“Why is six afraid of seven?”
“Because seven eight nine.”

As soon as we hit seven games back I felt that it was too much to overcome and that loss ate up any chances we had of winning this thing in ’09.  Add to it the fact that the Rockies keep winning and the rest of the pack keeps losing and they are separating themselves even farther in this wild card race.

Both the Cubs and the Rockies are 5-5 over their last 10 games.  However, the way those wins and losses fell, we’ve lost ground on the Rockies and are now eight games back in the wild card standings.  I can’t believe publications and outlets like ESPN even include them on their NL Wild Card standings/contenders lists any longer.  I mean, again, it would take a miracle.  So why not list the realistic chances only.  Anyone who hasn’t been mathematically eliminated would require a miracle to make it in, so in that case if you list the Cubs, might as well list everyone.

Our line up was sorely missing Lee as his return to the lineup included a couple of home runs and a victory against the Mets.  Putting all of that pressure and urgency on Wells’ starts in September is just too much for a rookie to realistically come through with so it’s no great surprise that Wells is proving to be unable to carry his weight through September.  Zambrano’s been touch and go, Demp hasn’t done anything special and there’s been no run support for Lilly or Wells.  So in that case we have to keep hoping Wells, a rookie, figures out a way to win and it’s just been too much.

Another Cubs loss today and a Rockies win.  An unfortunate pattern as of late.  I think I had the Dodgers winning the West and the Giants taking the wild card before the season began so if not the Rockies or Cubs, I suppose for my own record, the Giants are welcome to win the WC. 

The way this season is ending will raise lots of questions in the off-season.  Another starter needed?  A closer?  A new manager?  Use some of these class, talented youngsters to get a big name to win now with guys like Soriano, Lee, Ramirez and Bradley playing and getting up there in years?  Trade any of those guys in a blockbuster trade and perhaps that will make a difference?  I don’t know.  But the off-season will provide a ton of questions, predictions, analysis and trade proposals.  Hendry will have his work cut out for him in figuring out the last few moves necessary to mold this roster into a World Champion team. 

Until then, we still have 27 games left.  Eight games out.  Has seven ate ’09?  Probably.  But if the math works in our favor, then history may as well.  And if that’s the case, the off-season business may be a lot different, the chemistry may be okay and the language we hear will be something entirely unexpected.  First of the 27: Lilly against the Pirates.  We’ll always have Pittsburgh is a popular saying here at Prose and Ivy.  Tomorrow, we’ll see if that’s still true and if so, whether it makes any difference or not in the standings.  Go Cubs Go!

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Not Exactly Seventh Heaven

Dailies

It happened.  We’re seven games back. 

wild card 9:5.pngI thought six games would be a lot to make up in a month…seven I think is going to be too much.  Any result that puts us in the playoffs this year I’m afraid would be a miracle at this point.  Harden pitching today against the Mets.  Heading to see some family for the annual Labor Day weekend luau.  Hope my cell phone has some good news for me later today.  Full recap of my time at Citi last night for the Cubs/Mets game is listed in the post below this.  Go Cubs Go!

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Three Men and a Baby

Dailies

Zambrano earned some clout.  Soriano’s out.  And Lee missed another game on paternity leave for the birth of his second child.

Congratulations D-Lee, hope baby Lee and Mama Lee are doing well!  Adding one baby to your 2009 stat line after writing this, just because, why not!

Had fun at the Cubs game tonight at Citi Field…until about the eighth inning that is.  Zambrano, who has struggled in the two games he had prior to this one since coming off the DL had a strong outing.  His control seemed to be a bit off but he still got results.  He gave up a solo shot to New York’s up and coming left fielder Cory Sullivan in the second inning but aside from that he was effective getting out of any self made jams and keeping the Mets off the board.  From my seat in the second row of the front section of the upper deck behind home plate, I had a great view of pitches as they crossed home plate.  The point of view up there (section 514 for the record) is amazing and makes it real easy to agree or disagree accurately with the ump’s balls and strikes calls.  I think Zambrano got robbed a bunch, but then again, was the recipient of a few gifts as well.  Parnell benefited the same for the Mets so all is fair in love and strike zones. 

Parnell has had a rough go of it for the Mets but he was strong through his seven innings as well.  Not as strong as Zambrano though.  The Cubs managed to load the bases three times in the game and unfortunately only came away with a run during the eighth inning.  Timely hits was not this team’s strong suit tonight and I’m sure it didn’t help having Soriano on the bench and Lee’s bat home by the crib.

Soriano is out indefinitely and I must say…I think we’re looking at 2010.  I hate saying that before we are mathematically eliminated and I love our bench guys, I just don’t think we have enough to do what it takes this year.  When I left Citi to the pumping fist of K-Rod and the smiling faces of Mets fans, the Rockies were up 2-0.  Currently as I type this, the D-backs are up 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth.  If the Rockies come back and win, putting us seven games out, I think that’s exactly what we’ll be, figuratively.  Out.  Seven is too much to over come without some ground-breaking miracle that MLB Network will talk about for ages.  Without some kind of miraculous finish to the season, I think we’re done.  I didn’t think that before I left today for the ballpark and I won’t think it until we are officially seven out.  But if it comes to that, I believe we’re done.

I got to the stadium in time for batting practice.  I don’t normally get to the stadium that early and it was great.  I was standing right by the outfield wall where all of the Cubs pitchers (most) were stretching and warming up their arms.  Marmol looked great (too bad we didn’t see him tonight).  Lilly was there and I took the opp to shout some praises.  Berg was having a blast with kids asking him for baseballs, you could just tell he was digging it.  And Grabow was being harassed by two 10 year old kids for a baseball.  The same baseball he was currently warming up with.  Funny what kids don’t get.  Even after he said to them point blank, “I’ll give it to you when I’m done with it”, they still pestered him for it, asked why he needed it, and then began harassing another pitcher for the ball at his feet that he wasn’t using.  This guy was warming up right next to Grabow, the guy who promised them his ball.  Ah, the New York City public school system.

One kid next to me during BP was pretty cool.  Little Mets fan but clearly a baseball fan in general.  He had asked me if I could help him point out where the Cubs were on the field during warm-ups that he had in his stack of baseball cards.  Of course I could.  He was very excited to see Ted Lilly in person and was hoping to get an autograph.  I don’t know that that happened, but it was fun taking in BP with someone who still sees the game like an eleven year old kid.  Baseball the way it should be.

Once again Cubs Nation turned out and there were more Cubs fans around me than Mets fans in my immediately portion of the section.  One Cubs fan who had never been to Citi before was surprised that there aren’t any bleachers.  ‘That’s just not right’, he said.  Funny how bleachers are such a part of Cubs baseball.  He was floored that the stadium had no bleachers.  As if it made the game of baseball impossible to be played without them…like the Mets’ new ball field had no place for shortstop.  Funny.  Good guy to watch the game with.  Unfortunately after we celebrated the Cubs tying it up in eighth, I was correct when I told him the Mets would take the lead again once Gregg came out to pitch in the bottom of the same inning.  I really dislike Gregg.  He needs to be off this team in 2010.  He has done nothing but hurt this team in the greater picture and he needs to go. 

Mets played great defense tonight aside from their couple of mishaps in the field.  One easy pop up that should have been an out dropped in for Bradley and I believe it was Bradley again who benefited from an error at first.  To make up for it all was Parnell who had bases loaded at one point and got out of it with two strike outs and then a brilliant defensive play on the mound when a shot up the middle fired at him and he was able to stop it and get the out at first.  Unreal.  Mets win 6-2…scoreboard watching time.  Let’s hope we don’t let the GB mark reach seven.

Tomorrow’s another day at Citi and I believe Lee will be back.  No Soriano, but we’ll see if Fuld can make something happen.  And while Zambrano did his thing today, he deserved a win he didn’t get.  That’s to the fault of the Cubs inability to score guy in position and keep the stranded total down.  Hopefully that changes tomorrow and Marmol gets to show his stuff successfully in more than just the warm ups.  Get the W tomorrow boys….Go Cubs Go!
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Six back, Diamondbacks and Upper Deck

Dailies

Heading out to Citi Field in a little bit.  Seats in the upper deck behind home plate, good seats to scoreboard watch from and root for the D’backs to beat the Rockies and the Cubs to beat the Mets.  Hoping to catch Cubs batting practice.  Not expecting a lot of home runs tonight with Citi’s horrible dimensions when it comes to the long ball.  If it’s true that chicks dig the long ball, I doubt chicks dig Citi Field.

sept 4pitchers.pngLet’s hope they keep Zambrano under control if he takes BP.  Don’t need him pulling anything or adding to his back problems trying to yank one out of Citi when it doesn’t even count.  Zambrano needs to have his first quality start since coming off the DL.  Last time he faced the Mets he was extremely ineffective.  Hopefully he’s worked out the mechanics issue he’s had of late and is back to his old self tonight.  Mets will have Parnell on the mound.  With a record of 1-4 after five starts and an ERA of 10.29, this is another guy looking to get on track so I guess it’s a race to see which pitcher can put it together the fastest.  With the park dimensions, it’s going to take a lot of small ball to beat the Mets at their own game tonight.  81 degrees and partly cloudy at game time is the forecast.  Should be a beautiful night for baseball.  Expecting to see a lot of others at the game wearing Cub blue.  You know how we do in turning out at road games.  LET’S GO CUB-BIES!  I’m sure to be matched by many LET’S GO METS cheers.  Can’t wait.  Go Cubs Go!  Back later tonight with a recap!

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Is This too Matchy-Matchy?

Dailies

YES.

We have no shot at making up ground in any race if we decide to match those above us win for win, loss for loss.  The Cubs just wrapped up a pathetic 5-0 shutout effort against the crosstown Chicago White Sox.  And the whole game was a horror to watch, aside from Dempster that is.

Another strong pitching outing by a Cubs starter thrown away by the team’s hitting and defense.  Like Lilly as of late, Dempster controlled the Sox for a majority of the game until a couple errors put the Sox up 3-0, all three runs unearned.  No run support for Demp and no quality defense either.  One error on Soriano was ridiculous.  He slipped running over to catch a fly ball.  We all know what was coming next…the hop.  Now is the hop the reason for the slip?  I don’t know.  The Heckler recently had a headline about the Cubs initiated a prayer section in left to help out Soriano’s defense.  Wouldn’t be a bad idea honestly.  Yesterday I applauded the decision to replace Soriano with Fuld as a defensive replacement and that should’ve happened today.  I believe Sori should only be playing through seven innings.  Give him his at bats to see what kind of damage he can do with the bat, then, late in the game, prevent him from doing damage with his glove in the field.  I like having him on the team, he’s a vital cog to the Cubs success.  Unfortunately lately he’s also a huge reason why we get the L’s that we do…whether it’s his slump, his hop or his glove…we can’t afford anything but perfection right now. Oh, and honestly, if this cortisone thing isn’t working out, pull him all together.  He may be in so much pain right now it’s effecting his play.  Anyone else notice how pathetic those three swings were when Sori struck out to end the game?  It’s like he wasn’t even trying and just wanted to get it over with.  If he’s not able to do the job, sit him.  The few games we have left are too valuable to take a chance on a guy who may or not be feeling good enough to do what it takes.  Especially when there are no signs that he is healthy enough to do so.  Think Lou, be smart when putting that lineup card together man.  If he can’t go, put in someone else.  (sigh)

The Rockies are currently down against the Mets in the seventh inning 6-2.  Chances are they will lose.  The Cardinals are losing 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth.  As we all know, with the Cards this year, anything is possible.  But if they lose, yet again we’ve successfully combined our outcome with the Rockies and Cards and matched them result for result.  Forget the division, no threepeat, I get it.  But the Wild Card is not impossible.  Not if we win and they lose.  Will they lose?  Yes.  SO…WE HAVE TO WIN.  A pathetic 5-5 showing in the homestand and now off to New York to take on the Mets.  The Mets, who could only potentially take one of three against the Rockies, not helping the Cubs at all.  The Mets, who could possibly find a way to turn it on against the Cubs this weekend and do some more black cat voo-doo by sweeping the series while the Rockies blow up, not guaranteed or likely, but it wouldn’t be surprising the way things are going.

And to the Sox!  Vomit.  I said yesterday, no one better to play spoiler against than your crosstown rival.  Unfortunately the Cubs ended up on the wrong side of the final score and the fans in black left Wrigley happy today.  With the Rockies losing we lose a chance to make up ground but at least if the Mets hold and close this thing out, we won’t lose any ground.  Just such a shame to see the scoreboard and see the Rockies losing and know that we blew a chance to make up valuable ground in the WC race.  Have to take advantage of these opportunities.  The match game won’t do us any good at all.

Heading to Citi tomorrow to watch Zambrano take on the Mets.  Let’s hope the bananas and fluids are on the menu this evening and the mechanics come out to shine.  Need Z to dominate tomorrow and for the first time this season, Go Arizona (they’ll be playing the Rockies).  Tick tock boys.  Let’s get some runs and make up some ground!  Go Cubs Go!
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Teddy Must-win

Dailies

When my brother was about seven years old or so, he got a toy called Teddy Ruxpin.  This robotic creature was a cross between a teddy bear and a boom box.  It had everything.  Cassette deck in the back to play the storylines, storytelling ability, soft exterior making it an attractive soft teddy bear best friend and a mechanical inside making the whole thing work.  Wasn’t a whole lot this little guy couldn’t do.  Was the go to toy that year and was easily the most popular kid’s entertainment around at the time.  Had a best friend named Grubby who was a fatter, sloppier version of Teddy Ruxpin, yet still had the same mechanical make up, great for entertainment, just not as sharp on the outside and not the number 1 guy in toy sales that year.

This year, Ted Lilly is the Cubs Teddy Ruxpin.  Sounds ridiculous I know.  But this guy is the man this year and there isn’t much he doesn’t offer.  Eight solid innings today giving up only four hits shut down the Astros and gave the Cubs a much needed series win.  Like I said yesterday after the night cap W, currently quoted on the MLB.com home page (at the time of posting anyway….September is the season for scoreboard watching.  And now after Lilly did his thing, we have to sit and wait. 

But Lilly was the man today.  Eight innings, base hit…trying to generate and manufacture runs by attempting to even steal second base.  Unsuccessfully of course, but still the fire and desire was there.  Aside from Lee’s going yard for 2 runs, today was all Lilly.  Can’t blame him.  All quality starts since the break and just one win to show for it.  The Cubs offense hasn’t shown up to support his brilliant pitching so of course he was out there trying to grind in the runs himself. Whatever he can do to get the W because the Cubs need them now more than ever.  Hardly any season left and it’s on every Cub to give it all the way Lilly did today.  Go a little further.  Push a little harder.  Do the extra things that help the team end up victorious at the end of the day. 

Lilly’s effort, heart and desire today is what we need day in and day out.  Clearly the wild card victory is Colorado’s to lose, but let’s keep winning and keep the pressure on them to win or else give up ground to us DAILY.  No time to waste.  Our lone all-star stepped up and set the standard that all other Cubs should look to live up to and surpass if possible.  Lee is finally healthy and he’s inching closer to a potential .300 30HR 100RBI season and it couldn’t come at a better time.  Bradley prides himself on the fact that the media was wrong to harp on ‘can he stay healthy’ considering he’s hardly missed all that many games.  Ok, great.  But you need to produce in these games Bradley.  Stay hot and produce.  Support great pitching performances like the one Lilly put in today.  And don’t stop putting the pressure on those above us.

Colorado has the Mets, hopefully the Mets can pull their JV team together and upset the Rockies tonight.  If so, we’ll pickup a full game in the standings.  Atlanta beat Florida last night.  Best thing that can happen tonight is for Florida to beat Atlanta.  Let them share the beating and games lost in the standings during their intra-wild card standing series this week.  If that were to happen and the Giants lose as well.  We could be looking at five teams within five games of each other with a month left to play.  Gotta love it.

Going to Friday night’s game at Citi Field against the Mets.  Zambrano will be starting for the Cubs.  He would be the Grubby to Ted Lilly’s Teddy Ruxpin.  When Lilly pitches, those games are absolutely must-wins.  Same with Wells and also Zambrano.  Lilly is the unofficial ace of the staff this year with his all-star status and Wells has high expectations to live up to with a stellar rookie campaign as he and Lilly share the team lead in wins at 10.  But Zambrano needs to step up and deliver the great story with the mechanical side of him and not continue to simply produce the sloppy, fiery, entertaining outside of Zambrano.  He is the official ace of this ballclub and we need to be able to count on him.  His games are must-wins as well, so come Friday, that’s exactly what he needs to come away with.

Tomorrow we get the White Sox and those games are always interesting.  If any one team is going to play spoiler to another, can’t think of any other team better to do so against than your crosstown rival.  Let’s hope the pitches keep finding their places and the bats stay hot.  First thing’s first though.  We did our part today in getting the win.  Now, once again, something we’ll be getting real used to over the course of September…time to sit back, stress out…and keep a real close eye on that scoreboard.  Thanks MLBlogs for showcasing Prose and Ivy on the MLB.com home page today.  I’m sure it helped attract a whole new batch of MLBlog readers, perhaps some Cubs fans, and hopefully some return readers over the course of the final month of the regular season.  Feel free to comment regarding anything Cubs/MLB related in the blogs or in the chat section to the right…and enjoy the rest of the season.  This one is getting REALLY interesting….Go Cubs Go!

(And just for fun, for those of you unfamiliar with Teddy Ruxpin and Grubby, take a look at this):

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Let the Scoreboard Watching Begin

Dailies

Cubs win tonight over the Astros 4-1 at Wrigley with a strong outing by Wells (the kind of outing I expected last week when I bet on the Cubs to beat the Nationals in Vegas) and a dominant performance by Marmol.  Timely hits didn’t hurt the cause either and now it’s time to see what the other NL wild card hunters do this evening.  Here’s how the NL Wild Card standings look right now:

wild card standings.pngThis doesn’t take into account the fact that the Cubs won though the Giants loss is reflected.  Currently the Rockies are up on the Mets 8-3 in the 7th inning with the bases loaded.  Not good.  Atlanta and Florida have an NL East rivalry showdown series going so that will be convenient watching them beat each other up as long as the Cubs continue to win.  Four teams to catch.  We’re in this position due to inconsistency throughout the year along with a number of other reasons.  It is what it is.  September is the season for W’s and scoreboard watching.  Let the season begin!  Way to go today boys.  Great game Wells and Marmol.  And was it me, or did Lee and Ramirez actually look like they were having a good time?  Love having Baker out there.  Feel like when he plays we win.  Same kind of feeling I get when Wells pitches.  Also enjoyed the late Fuld for Soriano defensive replacement.  This is all part of what I mentioned earlier today regarding what the Cubs need to do in my opinion to claim the wild card…a position that has repeatedly resulted in teams making appearances in, and at times even winning, the World Series.

One game at a time.  Scoreboard, baby.  Scoreboard.  Go Cubs Go!
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Crunch Time

Dailies

This was the big news yesterday in Cub land.  We’re keeping Harden and Heilman.  Apparently we had received some interest in a few players but these were the only two that we came close to losing.  I have a hard time feeling sad about the thought of potentially losing Heilman.  I don’t really think he’s good for much more than a stop inning here and there, nothing special, nothing more nothing less.  If we were to lose Heilman, I don’t think it’d affect our chances down the stretch very much at all.

So I believe that’s why all the focus in the media ends up being on Harden.  And I agree.  If the Cubs were to let Harden get away, despite how Wells is pitching this year, it would signal that the organization thinks ’09 is a lost cause.  We all know it’s not.  We all know it doesn’t look good.  But we all know we’re not out of it.  Not yet.

Many teams have used September to make the playoff push a success and woke up in October as contenders.  Recent years included teams like the Astros, the Rockies going on a tear down the stretch and surprising everyone…that NL Wild Card seems to be up for grabs every year and this year is no different.  Sitting six games back after losing yesterday with the top two teams in the wild card race idle is not a good place to be, for sure.  However the Cubs have about 30 games left.  Six games to make up and we play A LOT of sub-par teams within those thirty left to play.  We’re keeping our guys and we’re making the push.  And that’s all we can ask for as fans. 

I’ve expected nothing this year except just that out of this team.  No exact result did I expect…just simply a fighting attitude from a group of talented guys and a no-quit approach from a team that on paper stacks up as one of the best in the bigs. 

I love the game of baseball but clearly I follow the Cubs closer than any other team out there so I guess that’s why their inconsistent play stands out to me.  Injuries we hear about everyday, regarding every team on MLB.com and other news sources.  However, when you watch, read about and write about a team day in and day out, you see the little things that make the difference.  The things that make the difference between a stellar rookie season and a stumbling sophomore campaign.  That make the difference between back-to-back-to-back division titles and being 10.5 games behind the division leading Cards.  The things that make the difference between controlling your own destiny and having to closely participate in scoreboard watching to see how four or five other teams are doing on any given day because your post-season hopes depend on it.

This team has been inconsistent all year long.  If you follow the Cubs you know this and it messes with your head, your emotions and it’s hard to not be frustrated by it daily.  It’s now time for this ballclub to get it together.  We kept Harden for the push.  He needs to get his stuff under control and fast.  Wells needs to step up and finish the season strong.  His off-speed pitches need to come back and dominate, separating themselves from his fastball.  It’s a lot to ask of a rook but if you’re out there, we need you to perform.  Hill needs to continue his successful ’09 as Soto’s backup with hot numbers as the starter throughout September.  Zambrano needs to step up and finally be our ace this year.  His inconsistency and injuries are a big part of why we are where we are.  Piniella needs to figure out who gives us the best chance to win and play those guys into the ground right down to the final out of the regular season.  Soriano’s cortisone shots need to be as effective as his bat, and Bradley’s as well.  His bat was to be the difference that puts us into the NLCS, not leave us on the outside looking in come October.  Lee needs to keep it up heading towards a .300, 30HR, 100 RBI season and continue to hush Cubs fans thoughts, comments and feelings of perhaps its time to look to Hoffpauir as we all were discussing earlier in the season.

Now is the time for everyone to shut up and play.  Play every fly ball, ground ball, pop up and bunt laid down like its their last.  Look at every ball close to the strike zone and hustle on every ball put in play like they never have before.  Run out ground balls.  Turn double plays.  Focus on defense and the basics.  Make your pitches.  Do your job scouting the opponent and beat the teams you’re supposed to beat. 

We do all of that and I like our odds.  Chances are, we’ll continue to be inconsistent and come up just short.  Point is though, that as of today we still have a shot at this thing.  Let’s settle in, pile up the W’s and take control of the Wild Card.  That’s our way in this year.  Let’s do what we need to do to accomplish that and then turn up the heat even further in October. 

Can’t wait to see how this all plays out.  Happy to see Harden and Heilman are still with the club.  Happy to see that wherever Hendry keeps his towels, that’s exactly right where they have stayed.  No towels being thrown in on ’09 just yet.  Not yet.  Little time left.  But what’s left in extremely valuable.  Cubs v. Astros this evening.  Wells on the mound.  Let’s get this push off to a great start tonight.  Go Cubs Go!

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What a week!

Dailies

Why the absence?  Why the ‘back in a bit’ title in the last post?  Why the Muppet wedding video last week?  Because last Saturday I got married.  York Beach, Maine…and it was beautiful. 

ryan sasha dance.pngThe Reverend Tom Vanderslice from Chicago presided over the ceremony in a beautiful chapel, St. Peters by the Sea.

st peters.pngHurricane Bill threatened to make the entire weekend a washout and weather reports were rampant with updates filled with potentially bad news come the wedding day.  However after all was said and done, we only saw rain for 10 minutes Friday night and for 10 minutes a couple hours before the ceremony on Saturday.  PHEW!

The reception afterwards was incredible.  Sasha and her mother did such an amazing job putting every small detail together that it added up to an amazing day that no one that attended will forget.  It was so much fun to dance the day away and look around and see all your family and friends smiling and enjoying themselves as well.  We had a blast, so while I don’t think my new in-laws read this blog, in case they do THANK YOU!!! : )

After the wedding it was off to the honeymoon on Sunday….to LAS VEGAS!!! Or as the locals call it, Lost Wages.  We did well to not lose too much money.  We’d win a little and then lose a lot but it evened out to a very responsible/reasonable amount come Friday when it was time to go home.

ryan and sasha flamingo bench.pngWe had an amazing time in Vegas.  We stayed at the Flamingo Hotel and here was the view from our room:

view from hotel.pngAll the palm trees you see were part of the outside pool area.  Three pools throughout, connected by waterslides.  NICE.  Then you can see how you can basically see for miles and miles to the mountains of the dessert.  It was 100-110 degrees and sunny everyday.  What a crazy experience to fly into Boston Friday night and have it be raining and 50 out.  Bizarre change of elements.  A lot of heat and a lot of hydrating being done throughout the week like this moment here:

serendipity straw ryan.pngFilled the days with fun checking out cool events like the Price is Right Live (neither of us got called to ‘Come on Down’ unfortunately)

price is right photo.jpgLoved the food and hit the buffets hard.  Here’s a sample of my dessert one night:

dessert.pngThat’s right.  Three.  And that wasn’t the end of it.  We’re talking buffet desserts here, not strikes.  Eventually found myself some cotton candy.  I highly recommend the Treasure Island casino buffet if for no other reason than the desserts.  Awesome.  (Currently watching the Mets/Cubs game.  Z got hammered.  Marshall isn’t doing much better and Pagan must be enjoying beating up on the Cubs.  Hopefully we pull this one out but currently down 4-1)

cotton candy.pngLooks like the woman behind me in this photo was excited about the cotton candy too.  She’s taking one to go. : )  Oh, and yes….there was gambling.

Hit every single casino on the strip from the Encore to Circus Circus.  Had a blast.  While I was there, I figured, hey, we bet slots and tables.  Time to bet sports book?  Absolutely!  Wednesday morning I decided to bet on the Cubs vs. Nationals game.  The Nationals are a joke as every knows.  Then again, our bullpen hasn’t faired much better this season.  Here I am making my first Cubs bet of the week.  That’s right.  “First”.

2nd bet fingers crossed.pngI decided that because the bullpen has been having issues, I would give Harden the benefit of the doubt against the Nationals and bet what they call the fifth inning proposition.  I’m not a sports better generally so this was all knew to me.  I could’ve bet on how many runs they’d score, who would win overall, through the 5th inning etc.  So I decided to bet that the Cubs would lead at the end of five innings avoiding a bullpen collapse altogether.  This was a tough call though knowing how many walk offs and late inning wins there are in baseball…did I want to bet all 9?  Nope, go with Harden and that’s that.  So I watched the five innings (to my new wife’s displeasure since it was our honeymoon) and I couldn’t believe it.  The Nats we
re up 1-0 for a while, into the 4th.  The Bradley hit a two run shot in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead.  What a great position to be in right?  Just have to hold them through the top of the 4th and then I win!  My $10 (ten in honor of Ron Santo) bet would pay out about 3.75 and I’d make a few bucks while cheering on the Cubs!  Into the top of the 4th we go.

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Harden looks great.  Then a guy gets on first.  Passed ball…guy to second.  Uh-oh.  Base hit with two outs and wouldn’t you know it….one out away and I lose my bet.  2-2 at the end of five innings.  As usual…one out away…lose.

I placed that bet at New York, New York Hotel and Casino.  After a long day of kicking myself for not betting the whole game (the Cubs ended up winning the ballgame which I was happy about.  I’d rather them win and me lose than the other way around) we ended up at Paris, another casino on the strip.  Here we got a souvenir, yard tall eiffel tower shaped strawberry daquiri shown here:

ryan eiffel tower drink.pngNow, I am not a drinker.  So by the time I was done with this drink, I was pretty buzzed.  It was then that I decided the next morning I would bet on the Cubs again.  They’d be playing the Nationals and what are the odds they’d lose to the Nationals.  I mean, they already beat them once, why not again?  And with Wells pitching?  This year they win ALL THE TIME when Wells pitches (not really, but it feels that way).  And because I was buzzed, I decided tomorrow morning I’ll place another bet on the Cubs, this time for nine innings and for $30 dollars.  That way, I can make my money back that I lost the day before.  (Dangerous way of thinking in Vegas).  And so I did.  That morning I knew it was not a great strategy, but I was in Vegas on my honeymoon living it up, so why not do like Ernie said and:

2nd bet let's play two.png“Let’s play two!”  $30 down on the Cubs vs Nationals, Cubs to win at the end of the game mainly because it’s fun and Wells is pitching.  Here is the picture of the bet ticket:

2nd cubs bet ticket.pngIf I win, I get my 30 back, plus 13.60 which would put me where I would’ve been if I won the first bet.  Sweet.  Wells.  Nationals.  Bet it at Bill’s Saloon Casino in honor of Bill Veeck.  Guaranteed. 

Actually, no.  Nothing is guaranteed in Vegas.  No sure things.  Cubs lose.  Wells gets rocked early, down 5-0 early the Cubs could only battle back to 5-4 and I may have been robbed on a play at the plate where it looked like Lee was called out even though his hand appeared to hit the plate before the tag.  So there I was.  $40 lost on the Cubs.  Done?  Nope.  Still a 2:00pm game on Friday before I flew out…let’s make it a three game series for me the Cubs and the sports book!  Why not?

And then wait a second.  I started thinking….I wasn’t losing at the end of five innings on Wednesday’s bet.  At the end of five, the game was tied at 2-2.  Tie goes to the runner, right?  Shouldn’t tie in this case go to the gambler?  So I asked the sportsbook at the Flamingo what happens in the case of a tie and they said……..you get your money back!!!!!  What?!?  I get my money back!!!!?!?!?!  Sweet!  Only thing was in order to get my money back I had to walk all the way back down the strip to get it at NY, NY!  Worth it to me!  SO…I placed my third bet of the week, this time on the Cubs to win, complete game against the Mets.  Lilly pitching at home against the NY Mess (injuries have ripped them apart this year)?  How could I miss?  So, $20 down on the Mets.   I let my 10 ride plus another ten.  Here is a picture of the third bet ticket:

3rd bet ticket.pngAnd here is a picture of me celebrating my tie on the first bet and the fact that I’d get my money back!

1st bet win discovery.pngConsidering I thought I had lost, this was very exciting!  And here I am after I got my $10 back from the betting window:

1st bet push $10 payout .pngNot a big drinker…and look at that smile after keeping $10.  Not a big gambler either.  You’d think I just won a couple hundred bucks.  This was cashed in at NY, NY so of course they had the Mets/Cubs game on in the sports area.  I went to check it out to see how my third bet was doing, a $20 spot on Lilly at home.  Here’s a shot of Bradley on the big screen there:

3rd be<br />
t bradley on screen.pngAt this time the score was 1-1.  Time to go to the airport…I’d have to check in later on my phone to see how it turned out.  And as it turned out…Soriano goes deep with a three run shot in the eighth inning to give the Cubs the win 5-2!!!  I win!!!  So I had a tie, a loss and a win in my Cubs betting in Vegas.  A great, great time and it was fun making the Cubs a part of it.  Have to send my winning ticket into the Flamingo for my winnings, doing that this week.  Here is a picture of me at the airport when I realized my third bet was a winner:

3rd bet win discovery.pngA little scary, I know.  Oh well, it was exciting.  Unfortunately though the honeymoon was over (literally, not figuratively) hence this pathetic shot of me in the hotel room on the way out the door:

honeymoon over pout.png But was Vegas fun?  Absolutely.  In fact, I’d say Vegas is,

slots of fun.pngLooks like the Cubs are going to lose this one day.  Down to their final out.  Sucks…good thing I didn’t have money on this one!  Make that official…last out recorded.  Cubs lose today.  But what a great week.  For those of you who would like to see more photos of the wedding, reception and honeymoon, you can see a slideshow of photos one of the maids of honor took by clicking here.  Happy to share them with you!  Go Cubs Go!!!  Look forward to seeing them when they come to New York this weekend!

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Marmol Aida

Dailies

I don’t know that it came down from Mitch and Murray, maybe just Hendry…but finally Piniella took a stand and made the switch to Marmol as the Cubs’ closer.  Grabow and Guzman were considered but this round goes to Marmol.  Just like anything else, I’m sure it could play out to a situation by situation component of the Cubs pitching staff.  Lou was quoted as saying that Grabow and Guzman will get opportunities to close games as well and that there is no timetable for how long Marmol closes. 

But now what.  How will Marmol respond?  Will he step up and be the guy I’ve seen him as in the closer role in my mind?  Or will he let the pressure go to his head as he’s had some mental toughness issues this year?  29 opportunities and six blown saves by Gregg.  Finally Lou admitted it was time to go after these close ballgames different and secure some tough wins as opposed to constantly sweating tough losses.  The Cards are real strong right now and are considering bringing on Smoltz.  Out of the bullpen that will only make them stronger.  Why the Cubs didn’t make another pitching move to bolster their own pitching (you can never have enough) I don’t know.  At least if the pieces don’t change, we can rearrange and maybe finally figure out how to successfully put his puzzle together.

It’s good too to hear Lou admit they’ve been headed in the wrong direction with Gregg.  A lot of admittance going on in the Cubs clubhouse with Lou speaking up and Z finally admitting that perhaps he’s not exactly the spokesperson for 7 minute abs.  Now if only we can get him to admit he’s not paid to hit home runs during batting practice.  That would be a real accomplishment.

I actually thought we were in decent shape last night until we were defeated by of all things, an inside the park home run.  Is there any other way to lose a ball game that we haven’t seen already this year?  Have we seen them all?  Anyone else notice that whomever is at the plate, whichever team it may be, always scores or does something positive when MLB Network checks in on a game?  It says it’s live, but I feel like any time I’ve seen them check in on a game, like last night’s Cubs game for instance…they score.  I was watching MLB and they checked in on the Cubs game.  Soriano was up, Cubs down 3-2.  And it kind of took the drama away because I just knew they were going to tie it up with the way the check-in’s work.  Sure enough, bloop single by Soriano, RBI, tie game.  Just saying…anyone else notice this?

Good to see Dempster putting up 10 K’s.  Would be better to see him get the W as well.  A lot of that of course comes down to the bullpen taking better care of leads.  Let’s hope Marmol and the newly organized bullpen do just that.  Second place may be a set of steak knives, but as Gregg found out…third place is you’re fired. 

On a more amusing note…I’ve never been to San Diego.  However, if ever there were a time I wished I was, it would be seeing Piniella get stopped for jaywalking.  How he restrained himself from firing his hat down and kicking dirt on the traffic cops shoes would have been a hilarious sight to see.

Harden up tonight.  Here’s to him getting over the .500 mark.  Go Cubs Go!

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No Coffee for you Gregg

Dailies

Did I know much about Gregg before the Cubs signed him?  Not really.  I knew he looked like a goon.  I knew he pitched for the Marlins.  I knew that he was coming in to replace a Cubs favorite.  I knew he’d be challenging Marmol for the closer job.  I knew he was the wrong choice.  I thought I knew Lou knew what he was doing.

And now here we are.  29 opportunities and six blown saves later, the goon who is not Wood nor Marmol is blowing are shot at ’09.  Killed me to wake up and see that the Cards beat the Dodgers last night.  Unbelievable.  Pujols is having an unreal year, the Cards are soaring and here we are, doing our best to simply keep up.  We do pretty well, he hand it over to our closer in the toughest sitch a closer can be in…the one run lead.

Goon gets to one strike away.  Boom.  Blown save.  Boom.  3 run walkoff for the Padres.  The same Padres who hurt us by not beating the Cards in their previous series have shown up once again to hurt us by beating us directly.  The same Padres franchise that crushed us in ’84.  I hate the Padres.  Especially right now.  More so though, I hate Gregg.

Lou, enough already.  Borrow Gregg’s goon goggles if you have to.  Please see that he is not the guy for the ninth.  It’s amazing that fans have been saying it all year yet here we are, in August, and you’ve still got that goon blowing saves.  I know, I know.  After last night you FINALLY said maybe you’ll make a switch as to how you handle the late innings.  That would be great and about time.    You finally made some changes in the lineup and we did marginally better.  Make the change to Marmol, sit Gregg altogether if you have to and move Guzman to the eighth.  At least if you decide to throw Gregg in the seventh we have a shot at making up the runs he gives up.  I swear, nothing upsets me more than seeing L – Gregg in the pitching results.  L – Gregg?  So wait….we were up and that goon blew it AGAIN!?!  Drives me nuts.

The Cardinals are no joke this year.  The Cubs aren’t a joke, but we’re grasping at straws here.  Our line up can’t hit when it matters.  Our starting pitchers can’t stay healthy.  Our closer can’t close.  And our fans can’t hold on to their beer.  Enough already.

I feel like I need to put this clip up for Gregg.  No coffee for you Gregg.  Coffee’s for closers. 

Unbelievable.  Come on Lou.  Enough already.  Gregg doesn’t deserve these leads.

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Or not.

Dailies

I suppose it could go the other way as well.  We could lose a 1/2 game today. 

Which we just did.  2 run home run in the bottom of the ninth by Colby Rasmus, St. Louis wins 7-5.  Gain a half game on the Cubs in their lead in the Central.  So much for possibilities of the previous the post.

Go Cubs Go…let’s get this one back tomorrow!
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Could still pick up 1/2 a game today

Dailies

pppd aug 16.png

That was the photo up on Cubs.com today.  No, people weren’t protecting themselves from rowdy Cubs fans throwing beer at the opposing outfielders.  Simply a photo of the Cubs having no chance in sweeping the PIrates today, due to rain, that will have to wait.  HOWEVER, we still have a chance to pick up 1/2 a game on the Cards as they are currently in their own rain delay in the 8th inning, trailing San Diego 5-4.  Any where we can pick up ground whether it be the division or in the Wild Card race we’ll take it! 

Zambrano pitching A ball.  The guy threw a no-hitter against the MLB Houston Astros about a year ago and yet I’ll bet that won’t happen in the innings Z gets in A ball.  Isn’t that bizarre?  Same guy who can no-hit an MLB team could potentially struggle in an A ball game.  Sure, he’s there to rehab, but still.  When you’re the Cubs’ staff ace, you’ve started five straight opening days and you’ve no-hit the Astros, you should destroy in A ball.  He won’t though and most don’t.  Bizarre.

I’m just looking forward to having him back and healthy.  Anyone else tired of Gregg’s dramatic turn this year?  Anyone else feel like giving Guzman the eighth and Marmol the ninth?  I certainly wouldn’t mind and it would be fine if they didn’t sooner rather than later considering now is crunch time.  Which makes me wonder who is going to step up this last month and half to make up the 4.5 games we need to pick up to grab a share of the division lead.  Sori?  Bradley?  Lee?  Will Soto ever wake up?  Will Fontenot start again at second base or has Baker stolen the starting spot from co-Mr. LSU double play combo Fontenot?  Did Felix Pie’s hitting for the cycle make anyone miss him?  Probably not.  Is Lou really on the hot seat or are sports writers just trying to sell papers?  Probably the latter. 

Just some thoughts on a rainy PPD of a day.  That and of course, let’s keep the heckling of the opposing players to simply that.  And of course, on-line in blogs such as this one.  Ballpark beer is too expensive to waste on a bum like Victorino and doesn’t put Cubs fans in a very good light.  Glad the guy apologized and stepped up in taking responsibility for his actions.  Throwing anything at an opponent is uncalled for.  Especially a cup of $8.00 beer.  Anyway, take advantage of the PPD and spend the time you would’ve spent watching the game checking out the rest of the site and requesting your very own Prosecard.  For more info on what that is, read the next couple posts.  Go Cubs Go!
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Cubsterpiece Theater proudly presents

Dailies

http://www.xtranormal.com/players/jwplayer.swfhttp://www.xtranormal.com/players/embedded-xnl-stats.swf

Enjoy reading Prose and Ivy and following your favorite team all year long?  Be sure to email me at proseandivy@cubsmvp.com to be featured here as the showcased Cubs fan in the new feature “Prosecards from Cubs Nation”!  It takes next to no time at all and is Cubtastic.  Also, way cooler than that last sentence.

Awesome game today, Cubs keeping the wins coming against the Pirates.  Have to win the games we’re expected to win and these are those games.  Gorzelanny had to feel good bring the W against his former mates, especially in being responsible for one of the RBI’s on the Cubs side.  Still not sure where all this is headed this year…hopefully the Cards lose tonight to San Diego and we can pick up a full game today.

Go Cubs Go! 

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NEW FEATURE: Prosecards from Cubs Nation!

Dailies

What’s up Cubs fans!  I remember writing a post last year about how ‘we’ll always have Pittsburgh’.  Seems as if that feeling and situation still rings true.  I didn’t get a chance to watch today’s game as I was up to my eyeballs in work today, but I did have a chance to follow it on-line.  When I saw a four run first inning, I thought, wow it’s about time.  Let’s see how this goes.  See if Wells can hold ‘em and maybe we’ll actually beat a team when we have more hits than they do.  And then…BOOM….a 10 run 2nd inning!  What!?!?  10 RUNS?  Unreal. 

That’s the kind of thing you like to see when you check in from work on the ballgame.  The days are long enough without cubs.com sending me a final game score that shows Gregg as the losing pitcher or the fact that the Cubs were blown out.  A 10 run inning is exactly what you need to get you through a miserable afternoon!  Fukudome, Lee (7 RBI!) and the gang doing their thing today and Pittsburgh plays victim to another Cub on-slaught.  Awesome. 

I wasn’t the only one enjoying it either….one of Prose and Ivy’s most loyal readers took great joy in the outcome as well.  She goes by the name of ‘Abracadabra’ and is often found chatting with me and other fans here during Cubs games.  A few of you have really stepped up and stood out as enthusiastic readers and Cubs fans over the past year and a half year and because of the great fans I’m meeting with this blog I decided to add a new feature to Prose and Ivy.  It’s all about Cubs fans and showcasing some of the team’s biggest fans.  This week’s interview is with Abracadabra in a new feature I like to call “Prosecards from Cubs Nation”.  Check out the feature’s debut here with Abracadabra in the lead off spot!

PROSE AND IVY’S “PROSECARDS FROM CUBS NATION”
Prose and Ivy Reader and Cubs Fan showcased: Abracadabra

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Hey Prose! Here's my profile; can't wait to see the interviews up on your blog. Keep the posts coming!!
 
Name: Abracadabra

Why the Cubs are your favorite team: To put it in two words: CUBS
NATION.  We're all in this together, win or lose. It's singing "Go Cubs
Go" with 40,000 of your closest friends after a Cubs victory. It's
going to a Cubs road game and having several thousand Cubs fans
cheering alongside you.
 
It's been a hundred and one years, but when we do win it all, it will
be the greatest celebration ever. No fan of any other team can claim
that. None of us became Cubs fans because it was easy, but I wouldn't
give it up for anything.

Favorite Cubs memory: June 29th, 2007. Cubs vs. Brewers at Wrigley
Field. Rich Hill gives up five runs in the first inning, but the Cubs
chip away and enter the bottom of the ninth trailing by two runs. With
one out, there are runners on first and third and the Cubs get a run on
D-Lee's sac fly. We're down to our last out, and the tying run is only
on first.. Aramis steps up to bat, and hits Francisco Cordero's first
pitch into the left field bleachers for a walk off win. Greatest game
I've ever been to- Wrigley Field was a madhouse.
 
Favorite current Cub: Ryan Theriot

Favorite all-time Cub: Ernie Banks

Your dream Cub line up: Derrek Lee 1B, Ryne Sandberg 2B, Aramis Ramirez
3B, Ernie Banks SS, Billy Williams LF, Hack Wilson CF, Andre Dawson RF,
Jody Davis C, Fergie Jenkins P

How would you celebrate a Cubs championship?: My dream is to be in the
stands at Wrigley Field, or at least in Wrigleyville, but I don't know
what the probability is of either of those happening. Wherever I am, it
will be a combination of shouting/cheering/crying/waving my W flag and
hi-fiving/hugging anyone who's close by. I can't even imagine how
exciting it will be- you know, like all the years of heartbreak have
finally paid off.

Most feared opposing batter: Albert Pujols

Most feared opposing pitcher: Tim Lincecum

You can either sing during the seventh inning stretch or call a half
inning, which would you rather do and why?
Call a half inning. Singing
in front of 40,000 is not my thing.

One thing you would change about Wrigley Field: Ticket prices. 

One thing you would change about the game of baseball: Get rid of the DH in the American League.

You're having dinner in the Cubs clubhouse and can invite any four
Cubs, living or dead.  Who would you invite and why?
Jake Fox, he seems
like he is a really nice, down to earth guy. He also played with my
cousin (Kevin Slowey) in the Arizona Fall League. Ryan Theriot. He's my
favorite player! Ernie Banks, he's Mr. Cub!! Ryne Sandberg, another
Cubs great and Hall of Famer. 

Do you believe the Cubs are cursed?  Yes or no and why? NO. Curses are
just excuses. Baseball is determined by the players on the field.

More vital to the Cubs' success...Zambrano's bananas or the back up Gatorade machine? Got to go with the bananas.

You have 30 seconds to break the news to Soriano that he is never going
to lead off for the Cubs again.  What do you say?
Sorry Alfonso, we
need you in the lineup, but we need you batting in the sixth hole. It's
best for the team, and we could use your power lower in the order.
You're best suited to bat around the middle of the order, so we want to
utilize that. 

You have 30 seconds to break the news to Kerry Wood that he'll never
pitch for the Cubs again.  What do you say?
I wish I wasn't the one to
tell you this, but the team has decided to move on with another closer.
I know how much you would have liked to end your career with the Cubs.
Please understand that the fans didn't want this to happen, and you
will always be welcome in Chicago.

You have 30 seconds to break the news to Carlos Marmol that despite
being the fan favorite and most dominating pitcher on the roster to
compete for the closer, the job is going to Kevin Gregg.  What do you
say?
You've had a great spring Carlos, and I know your goal was to win
the closer's spot, but we've decided to give the job to Kevin Gregg.
I'm not saying Gregg is the better pitcher, all it is, is that we're
giving you the 8th inning role which can be just as important. In fact
there's more flexibility for the team if you're not going to close,
since we can bring you in to get out of a jam in the 7th inning if we
need. 

You are Steve Bartman.  You have the opportunity to see the Cubs play
in the postseason at Wrigley Field and potentially close out the NLCS
making your way to the World Series.  However, you are warned that
either you, or the guy next to you is going to make a decision that
night that will make you one of the most hated Cubs fans in the history
of the game.  50-50 shot.  Do you go to the game?
No... If you go your
life may be in danger, and you'd always be hated by Cubs fans, even
though you're one of them. 
Disclamer: I don't hold Steve Bartman responsible for the Cubs collapse.

You're hired to run the Cubs 2010 public relations campaign.  You can
use any slogan, player, etc that you want to.  What is your advertising
campaign/slogan for the 2010 season?
My advertising slogan would be a
movie trailer for the 2010 season starring the players in various
roles: Aramis Ramirez: "The RBI Machine", Carlos Zambrano "The
Venezuelan Bull", Ryan 'The Riot' Theriot "The Sparkplug", Derrek Lee
"Veteran Leader". And of course, soundtrack by Steve Goodman.
"For the last hundred years, every season, every playoff berth has been
nothing more than an unfinished chapter in a long, sad book... but with
handful of determined players and a veteran leader, the whole story may
be rewritten."
Believe- A Lou Piniella Film, coming April 2010

Awesome to hear from Abracadabra!  Thanks again Abracadabra for leading off in the new Prose and Ivy feature spot!  17-2 win today.  Good things happen when Wells pitches lately.  And playing Pittsburgh sure doesn’t hurt!  Can’t wait to have Z and Lilly at full strength again.  Rami back at full strength would be a true blessing as well.  We won’t be playing the Pirates everyday, need to get as much fire power going as possible in rounding out this season…and it’ll be September before you know it!  I know we’re supposed to beat teams like the Pirates so it’s good that we do, because so is everyone else.  Now we need to keep this up AND figure out how to stay competitive and take series from true contenders.

If you want to be featured as a Prosecard from Cubs Nation and do a fan interview to be posted here at Prose and Ivy to share with other Cubs fans, please email me at proseandivy@cubsmvp.com and I’ll send you the questions to answer!  Thanks again Abracadabra!  Go Cubs Go!
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Make that ‘See-Saw’

Dailies

Once again, following a strong one run win by the Cubs, they follow it up with being on the wrong end of a blow out.  I think Wells has been great for this team this year but today the Rockies proved to be too much for him.  The amount of wins he’s collected for us and the recent innings he’s eaten up have made him one of our most valuable Cubs this year.  And now with Zambrano out with spasms, who knows how much more we’ll need to get out of him.  We might have to keep asking for too much from the youngster in order to keep up the W’s while the L’s seem to keep chugging along aside them.

Two games behind the Cards now as neither team has really been able to take advantage of the other’s mediocrity.  I have to feel like the Cardinals are a little closer to having it together though and the Cubs need to find a way to be more consistent.  Ironically, that’s been the one constant through the entire season.  There’s a reason why when people say ‘at least I’m consistent’ after they make another mistake they are joking and making light of a bad situation.  Unfortunately the numbers don’t lie and it’s going to be hard for the Cubs to make light of a situation that could end up with them quickly falling to the middle of the pack in the Central if the Cardinals do prove to be the team closer to having it together in upcoming weeks.

I feel like this team has been kept together by duct tape, gauze and bandages all season long.  It still blows my mind that we’re two games back even without having all our guys on the field most of the year.  It’s been this weird game of watching the 15 day DL rotate throughout the year and a stressful one at that.  I need to research and find out how many games each of the guys have missed this year.  Hard to wonder where we’d be had we been able to stay healthy.  I’ve thought losing DeRosa has had a big impact on this team this year, but DeRo or no DeRo, he’d have no influence on guys staying healthy.

The latest lineups have been entertaining though and I like that Piniella isn’t afraid to try new things and look for the fix.  Fukudome’s been fairly consistent no matter where in the line up and I like what he’s doing with Soriano.  Lee has turned it around and is pushing towards having another 30 HR 100 RBI season.  Having Rami out with a sore shoulder is scary as we saw what a force he was for the Cubs run production when he returned to the lineup.

Hopefully Piniella and the staff are wise in how they use everyone going forward.  Need guys as healthy as possible going into September which is exactly what we’ll be heading into come the end of Zambrano’s stay on the DL.  And hopefully that will translate into more consistency and less of a see-saw performance from the team to round out the year.  Two games back.  Time to tighten it up.

Go Cubs Go!
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Good to See

Dailies

Bradley’s game saving catch followed by the stare down of the Rockies crowd and a thump of his chest on the way back to the dugout.  That sequence was fun to watch tonight.  Not only because it preserved the Cubs’ lead, but it showed some fire this team has been lacking this year.  The Cubbie Swagger.  I realize winning brings swagger but sometimes the fake it til you make it swagger can bring wins as well, I believe.  And Bradley’s attitude after that play is exactly the kind of swagger this team needs to keep momentum in the NL Central.

I enjoyed watching the replay of Lee heading back to the dugout after a strike out and telling teammate Fukudome about a breaking pitch he had just gone down on.  Fukudome, you could tell, regardless of language barrier understood what Lee was telling him about the pitch and what he was warning him to look out for.  Why?  Because it must not be an English/Japanese thing with these guys at this point.  After playing together so long, I’m sure they’ve figured out a way to simply communicate by speaking baseball.  Whatever it was Lee said sure did do the trick.  Fukudome stepped into the box and sent the first pitch he saw (fastball) straight out to the seats in right field.  Cub fan got a souvenir, Fukudome got his ninth of the year and the Cubs got the win.

Marmol was dominant once again in the eighth.  I watched the game on the MLB Network so it was the Rockies broadcast.  Interesting to hear even their broadcast team talk about how the Cubs have the guy with the nastiest stuff pitching the eighth instead of the ninth.  That’s always been my argument for having Marmol pitch the ninth, but I guess the ninth doesn’t matter with a lead….so….I don’t know.  But Marmol was dominant in striking out the side.  The broadcaster’s point about Marmol falling hard to the first base side when he pitches was interesting too.  I’m sure it doesn’t help in painting the corner against a lefty or coming inside accurately to a righty.  In fact, I could see it making so much sense that I bet if we had a total of hit batsmen by Marmol, it would favor righties for a number of reasons, but mainly that one.

Then Gregg came in in the ninth and did his thing.  Couple balls hit really well but the Cubs had the field covered perfectly and Gregg added a save and the Cubs put one more up in the W column.  Interesting to see the Cubs are 55-15 when they score 3 or more runs.  70 games with at least 3 runs.  For as much as this team has struggled and missed having their whole lineup this year, I don’t think I would’ve guessed that they would’ve hit 70 at this point. 

Anyone else thoroughly enjoy Theriot’s stop and toss to second?  One of the guys I truly enjoy watching day in and day out.  Why did we see Fuld and Baker late in the game again?  Are they that great of an upgrade defensively over the guys they replaced?  I don’t think so but the ninth worked out, so perhaps?  Anyone else impressed with how many Cubs fans were at the game?  Felt like every other person in the stadium had Cubbie blue on.  Along with the other details of tonight’s game….good to see!

Getting married in two weeks from today.  In two weeks from today I will have been married for nearly seven hours.  Wow.  Funny when I can feel it set in a little deeper.  Talking about it of course quite a bit lately but every now and then, you can just feel it set in a little deeper.  Tell you all about it in a few weeks…honeymoon in Vegas the week after.  Vegas baby. : )

In the meantime, let’s keep it up boys!  Go Cubs Go!  And Happy 21st Anniversary to night games at Wrigley!
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Hughes Blues

Dailies

Unbelievable.  John Hughes died today.  Chicago native, he set a lot of the greatest comedies ever produced there.  I grew up with John Hughes films.  Vacation, Home Alone, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Breakfast Club.  I remember loving the idea of my family leaving me home alone by accident while they all ran off on vacation.  Looked like a blast.  I remember actually faking illness at the school nurse and then going home, recording myself ‘snoring’, playing it on the tape deck in my bedroom and filling the bed with anything I could find to make it look like I was sleeping.  When my Mom came in and thought I was the lump in the bed sleeping, for that split second, was one of my proudest teen moments.  Stupid, but definitely some pride in pulling it off a la Bueller.  And if I didn’t?  What’s the worst that would happen?  Detention?  Hughes took detention and made it look like fun. 

John Candy, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Matthew Broderick, Macaulay Caulkin, Molly Ringwald, John Cusack and on and on.  Hughes produced comedies that all ages could relate to and helped make stars out of some of my favorite screen actors today.  I have countless on DVD and find it hard to believe that at only the young age of 59, John Hughes is no longer with us.  What a shame.

Someone like John Hughes is exactly what this world needs and it’s a shame when we lose someone like him.  I wonder if he was a Cubs fan.  I wonder how badly he wanted to see a Cubs championship if that was the case.  For all the laughter and joy he provided us over the years, that was the least he could have had in return.

John Hughes died today.  Unbelievable.  RIP.
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Gimme an All-Star Break!

Dailies
all star game logo 2009.png

Three and half games back at the break.  Could be a lot worse considering how often we’ve had our starting lineup in there.  Regardless…it’s really not that bad of a place to be at the break so regarding what to focus on, how about: congratulations again Ted Lilly for being selected to represent the Chicago Cubs in the All-Star game tomorrow night.  As usual nowadays, home field advantage in the Series is on the line and really, the American league has won far too many of these games lately.  Let’s go National League, let’s get that W tomorrow night!

Watching the derby now, they’re up to Pena first round.  I decided I’m taking Mauer before this thing started and I’m sticking to it.  We’ll see!  St. Louis is a great park for this event…division rivals or not, I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of damage Pujols does in front of his home crowd. 
In celebration of the All-Star break, I finally got my parade photos from last year when the Cubs had eight all-stars on the roster!  Here are the photos I was able to rip from my phone.  They are phone pics mind you, so that should explain the quality.  Enjoy the pics, enjoy the derby and let’s hopefully enjoy watching Lilly get the W in a National League win tomorrow night!
Kosuke Fukudome and “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks
fukudome and ernie parade.jpg
Ryan Dempster
ryan dempster parade.jpg
Billy Williams and Ferguson Jenkins
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Ryne Sandberg
ryne sandberg parade.jpg
Geovany Soto
geo parade.jpg
Alfonso Soriano
soriano parade.jpg
Go Cubs Go!  Let’s get that home field advantage, National League!
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I’m Lovin’ It

Dailies

No, it’s not a McDonald’s advertisement.  Simply my response to Game one of today’s doubleheader against the Cards.  Z threw a gem and even hit a home run.  Talk about the talent out weighing the crazy!

I don’t root for anyone to fail, but I must admit I enjoyed watching Pujols botch that grounder today allowing two Cubs runs to score.  He’s catching Obama’s first pitch to start the All-Star Game festivities.  Hopefully that one doesn’t get through as well.
Game two tonight, can’t wait.  Pulled within 2 1/2 with the win.  Would be great to go out 1 1/2 out come the break at the end of the night.  Lilly will see an inning or two over the next couple days, everyone else will get some much needed rest.  But first, we need to pick up another game against the Cards tonight.  Wells on the mound and this kid is hot!  Let’s hope he adds another win to his streak….and let’s hope Piniella enforces the ‘use the stairs’ rule…we don’t need any more stupid injuries like Demp’s.
Also feeling good about pledging to fellow MLBlogger Zack Hample‘s charity effort for Pitch In For Baseball.  Arguably the BEST ball hawk in the game, Zack is snagging baseballs for charity.  You can pledge a certain amount per ball snagged (your choice) and at the end of the World Series, your donation makes it possible for kids all over the world to enjoy, and at time, be introduced to the game of baseball.  Sounded like a great cause to me after hanging out with Zack today, so I’m on board!  You can be too by clicking here!
Mark Newman of MLB.com, Heath Bell of the San Diego Padres and now your friendly neighborhood Cubs blog Prose and Ivy are all helping make a difference…what are you waiting for?  Click the link above and support a great cause!
Beat those Cards tonight Cubbies…Go Cubs Go!
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$900 million Doesn’t Go Very Far These Days

Dailies

Tribune Co. and the Ricketts family have allegedly reached an agreement on terms that would allow the Tribune Co. to sell the Cubs, Wrigley Field and a 25% share of ComCast SportsNet Chicago to the Ricketts.  This of course pending approval by MLB and a court of law considering Tribune has filed for Chapter 11.  

$900 million doesn’t go very far these days if all you can get are the Cubs, Wrigley and a share of SportsNet.  I’m kidding of course.  I just can’t imagine having access to that much money.  My girlfriend bought a new car a week ago committing to $20,000 over the next 6 years and she was like, OMG, I can’t believe I just committed to $20,000 over the next 6 years.  
This cat Ricketts just committed to paying around $900 million dollars for an unbelievable prize he won in an auction bid.  This guy makes following a $10 Cubs tee shirt on Ebay seem like a joke.  Remember those old Mastercard commercials that always ended in something being ‘priceless’?  The amount of Cubs lore and history the Ricketts will own, the events that have happened inside the walls of Wrigley are priceless…but apparently the same can’t be said for the actual physical being that the Cubs and Wrigley are.  If you ever catch yourself saying that Wrigley is priceless, stop and rephrase because it definitely has a price….about $900 million.  
This also goes to show though what a business this is to guys like Ricketts.  The total disconnect between owners and fans and the reality in which both live in.  No wonder some of the more expensive seats are empty around baseball.  They are meant to sit people like you and I, only they’re owned by guys like Ricketts.  Ricketts could throw away once worn pants with the amount of money it would cost for you and I to buy a field level CBOE seat for one game.  He and the rest of the baseball owners, I feel, will never get what it takes for baseball fans to attend a game themselves, let alone bring their family.  This is all of course, just a guess.  I don’t know Ricketts personally.  Maybe he’ll be different.  Maybe he’ll get it.  Maybe it won’t all just be about the money.  We’ll see.  What I do know is this.  My girlfriend committed to a $20,000 and is all about watching her pennies and budget in this economy.  You think a guy who just dropped $900 million on a purchase isn’t going to be thinking business first in a ‘how on Earth am I going to be able to make these payments’ kind of way? I’d be surprised if he wasn’t.  New ownership is coming.  A new day is on it’s way.  The future may hold the ultimate prize for the Cubs someday, sure.  But it’s the unknown of what we get with this rich cat Ricketts that worries me more.  $900 million, huh?  Time to go turn my change in at TD Northbank.  I’m thinking of splurging on lunch.
Cubs/Braves tonight from Ricketts Field, er, Wrigley Field.  Let’s keep the W flag flying high!  Go Cubs Go!
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Bare Minimum

Dailies

Ted Lilly.

That’s it.  One All-Star for the Cubs this year.  This of course does not include injury replacements and of course the fans will get to vote in the final reserve.  I supposed there’s a chance a Cub could end up being included in either.  But for today in the offical All-Star selections by fans, by players and by managers one Cub is included and that was Ted Lilly.
Every team gets at least one representative.  A pity all-star if you will.  If you don’t think that this year’s team is far inferior to that of last year, simply look at this year’s all-star roster versus last year.  I went to the All-Star game parade in New York last year and there were over half a dozen Cubs on the team.  Felt like after the all-time legends came by, every other car had a Cub in it.  This year, no one is dominant in a Cub jersey when compared to the rest of the National League.  Marquis is even an all-star this year.  I swear, if the NL’s potential home field advantage in the Series comes down to some all-star battle between someone on the American League team (looking at the lineups, probably a Yankee or Red Sox player) versus Jason Marquis, I will be incredibly bummed.  I can’t believe this.  The only thing worse would’ve been having DeRo on the All-Star team as an Indian or Cardinal.  
Almost at the break and we’re 3 games out.  We’ll get Rami, Reed and Guzzie back on Monday.  Hopefully that helps.  Last year’s playoff sweep of a loss to LA hurts even more so looking back at where we were last October and where we are today in July.  Last year’s team was MUCH better than this year’s and the expectations were rightfully high.  If this year’s team wins the Central again I’ll be surprised, let alone make any noise in the playoffs.  Maybe it’s simply the injury bug being a little thirstier this year around the Cubs dugout?  I don’t know.  But I see, baseball people see it and overall the fans see it.  This Cubs team is not as good as last year, nobody is performing where they were at last year and as a result I feel increasingly stronger that if we had a shot at winning it all, last year was the year.  This year’s team, there’s just something off.
Way to go baseball fans, not voting in Sori or Fukudome based on name and reputation alone.  Vote in the proper guys.  Congratulations to Ted Lilly.  Having a decent season and well deserves to represent the Cubs in the All-Star game a week and a half from now.
One Cub on the NL All-Star roster versus last year’s dominant population of Cubbies.  Pathetic.  But accurate and deservedly so.  The fans got it right in their lack of Cubbies this year.  Let’s hope the second half of the season is much different than the first for the rest of the roster and that Lilly keeps it up.
Are you happy with the NL and AL rosters?  Anyone get snubbed in your opinion?  Disagree with me with regards to the Cubs?  Agree?  Let me know.  Cubs/Brewers in a few minutes from now.  Lilly on the mound.  Can’t wait.
Go Cubs Go!
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Mark My Words

Dailies

Mark DeRosa will come back to haunt the Chicago Cubs.  No doubt about it.  Having him shipped out and sent to the American League is one thing.  Having him in the division rival’s line-up is another.  Happy for Mark that he’s no longer in the basement of the AL Central.  Interested to see how this plays out in the NL Central come the end of the season.  

Mark DeRosa is a Cardinal.  Makes me even more upset that the Cubs let him go in the first place.

http://espn.go.com/videohub/player.swf?mediaId=4292508

Go Cubs Go!

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Soto’s Slump Solved

Dailies

Congratulations Soto.  The one guy tested for drug use and it’s his lack of power numbers that is explained by his drug use.  

Weed try to figure out why the slump this year even further…but now, no need.  This all makes complete sense.  Let’s focus a little more on baseball and a little less on the mary-jane huh Cheech?  
Another tough loss for the Cubs today.  Playing well, but we have to win these one-run games if we want to win the division again.  Dropping too many close ones so far this year.  Definitely has to stop.
Go Cubs Go!
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Bang for Your Buck

Dailies

I want to know if your team gives you enough bang for your buck.  And by ‘buck’ I mean it in a number of different ways.  The financial investments: tickets, merchandise and maybe some of you like myself with the Cubs, a way to watch the games like MLB.tv.  The emotional investment: the time spent watching games, the energy put into rooting for your team, the mental effort put into analyzing the decisions your manager or general manager make with your club and the amount of heart put into celebrating your team’s victories/agonizing over defeats/arguing with fans of other teams, especially rivals over whose team is better.

Take the Cubs for instance.  You arguably can’t get more bang for your buck.  The moment a new title pennant flies at Wrigley, the Cubs would be the team that give its fans more bang for their buck than any other team in baseball.  The history: huge.  The drama: unmatched.  The stadium: historic.  The reputation their fans have with other fans: lovable losers…basically bottom of the barrel, respected yet bashed with glee (especially by their rivals’ fans).  The players…just to name a few: Soriano.  Ignites Cubs games on a regular basis with leadoff home runs.  Regular representative of the team come the All-Star game.  Raises the heat on debates on where in the order he should hit.  Carries himself like a professional and makes Cubs fans proud to root for him.  Bang for your buck?  Absolutely.  

Theriot.  Awesome nickname: The Riot.  Awesome first name: Ryan.  It is my name and sounds like Sandberg’s first name.  Hard to go wrong there.  Hustles on every hit ball and is among team leaders in all hitting categories.  Helping carry this team during a very tough stretch where extremely important keys to the team’s success have been injured.  Bang for your buck?  You bet.  

Bradley.  Controversial off the bat (pun intended) which is always entertaining providing lots of bang for the buck.  A huge threat when hitting well and finally in a long term deal, first of his career.  Love hate relationship with the fans….love hate relationship with the media…love hate relationship with…I’m guessing you name it.  Bang for your buck?  Possibly only Zambrano tops Bradley for most interesting character on this team.  

Lee.  Batting champ on the resume.  Team leader.  Scapegoat.  Absolutely dangerous when he hits his stride.  Hoffpauir hot on his trail causing fan debate as to whether it’s time to let Micah take the role full-time away from Lee.  Talented, hot topic, leader in the clubhouse and proven winner.  Bang for your buck?  Please, absolutely.  

Soto.  Rookie of the Year.  Sophomore slump.  First rookie catcher to start an all-star game in forever.  Handles one of the most talented starting rotations in all of baseball and from what I’ve read on several female Cubs fan blogger sites…apparently the ladies are big fans as well.  Bang for your buck?  YUP.  

Fukudome.  Please.  From the off-season where all we could talk about as Cubs fans was will he-won’t he up through opening day against the Brewers at Wrigley to the cool headbands, through the hot first half of his rookie season to the crash of his second half and a decent start to ’09.  Plus you know the club must be thrilled with what he does for the organization in overseas merch and interest in the club.  Bang for your buck?  Tons…and bang for your yen as well for that matter.
The bench. This is where you really tell if you’ve got a team that gives you bang for your buck, or just a few over-priced stars and everyone else who happens to dress the same as them everyday.  The Cubs’ bench has managed to step up and keep our team in the thick of the NL Central race and provided fans with quality guys to root for.  This bench as a whole has become the 2009 version of DeRosa when it comes to heart, versatility and ability to step  up and fill in in a crunch when injuries happen.  Without our talented bench, the Cubs would be in a lot of trouble right now heading into the the thick of Summer.  Bang for your buck?  Over and over again (thankfully). 

Zambrano, Harden, Lilly, Dempster, Marshall.  You bring your guys and we’ll bring ours.  I like our chances, injuries, ups and downs and all.  Bang for your buck?  No matter what day it is, you got it.  Especially Zambrano.  Bananas.  Cramps.  Tantrums.  Strikeouts.  Opening day starts.  No hitter.  Team Ace.  Beating up catchers in the dugout.  And a ton of heart.  Bang for your buck?  Maybe the definition of said phrase.  
Like I said…this club could arguably be the one team in the league that provides the most bang for your buck.  And I’ll go ahead and say it flat out, I believe they do just that…and there is no argument to be had come the day they raise a new World Series title pennant.
Cubs fans…think of a reason this is true that I forgot to list?  Tell me in the comments.  And fans of other teams who disagree and believe that their team in fact gives them and their team’s fans more bang for your buck…tell me their too.  Interested to hear your thoughts.
Great run lately for the Cubs.  Love the fight we’re seeing and loving that with even with all the injuries, we are right in the thick of this thing.  Harden’s turn tomorrow in Detroit.  And since I mentioned Ryne earlier…as a side note, I completely agree Ryno.  Completely agree. Go Cubs Go!
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Wait, what?

Dailies

Marquis wins NL leading eighth game.

Ok, this baseball season is completely unpredictable….it’s official!
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As Long as the Talent Outweighs the Crazy

Dailies

Zambrano notched his 100th win yesterday in his first game back from serving a six game suspension.  In the game he earned the suspension, he went off reality-tv-star style on the umpire, bumped the umpire, threw a ball into left field (maybe to see if Soriano was paying attention?) and proceeded to enter the dugout and destroy the Gatorade machine.  Reporters were calling him crazy.  A headcase.  Out of control.

Perhaps that day he was a crazy headcase out of control and the dugout was all out of bananas to boot.
But as it is with many things in life, if the pros outweigh the cons then all’s well that ends well.  Like dating.  Do you know how many crazy women I have dated in my life?  In all honesty, not that many.  However, the ones that were crazy also had to be incredibly attractive.  Otherwise, why in the world would one put up with the crazy?
That may sound horrible to some people and I don’t mean it to be taken the wrong way.  They weren’t crazy all the time, but often.  And there had to be pro’s to the relationship that outweighed the crazy moments…otherwise…we’re done.  Being attractive didn’t hurt and the relationship lasted as long as the pro’s outweighed the crazy (con’s).
That’s pretty much what the Cubs have in Zambrano.  A crazy hot headcase.  And his pro’s definitely outweigh his cons.  
The guy went off and got a six game suspension.  First game back, he homers in a game his team won 2-1 which makes his run the difference in the game arguably, struck out seven, dominated throughout and notched his 100th victory in a Cubs uniform.  And with great timing too.  This team has been up and down all season long with the injuries and headaches along the way.  When Zambrano was suspended six games, ultimately since he’s a starter we only really lose him one game due to the pitcher rotation.  But still, we need Z this season more than ever.  Our bench isn’t as deep and our performance has more holes in it than the team’s previously used Gatorade machine.  When it’s Z’s turn to pitch, in order for us to have a shot this year. we have to get the W.  And that’s exactly what Z delivered yesterday.  His turn.  His game.  Our W.
Is Zambrano the most mentally stable player on the team?  I don’t know, I haven’t really spent any time with any of them one-on-one or in person for that matter.  From what I’ve seen on TV and in the news and during games?  I’d say no, he’s not.  But does that necessarily make him a hinderance?  I don’t hear anyone complaining about wins.  And aside from the dugout refreshment coordinator, I don’t see anyone having a whole lot else to complain about.  So no.  Zambrano’s talent definitely outweighs the crazy…and it’s June, which is usually where a tantrum kicks us into gear.  So let the ump-bumping and gatorade smashing be appreciated I say.  Until he starts returning with ground outs and L’s…then and only then would he possibly no longer be attractive enough to us Cubs fans to be acting so crazy.
(And since fans of other teams read this blog as well, I’d really be interested to hear who your team’s crazy hot headcase is and if you think they’re truly ‘attractive’ enough to be deal with all of their ‘crazy’!)
Go Cubs Go!
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May I Have a Minute of Your Time?

Dailies
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Hey, hey there Cubs fans, it’s me your friendly neighborhood Gatorade dispenser.
 
Make that, your not so friendly Cubs dugout Gatorade dispenser.
  
Gone are the days when pitchers would beat up catchers to take out their frustrations.  I’ve never missed Barrett more than I have recently, that’s for sure.  A quick message to the Cubs: I am not the reason you are a hot mess right now.  Not one bit and I’d appreciate it if you would please STOP beating the crap out of me to make yourselves feel better.
 
Eight losses in a row and then two W’s.  Probably six more to follow to match the previous eight that’s how unpredictable and consistently inconsistent you guys have been.  And now Z get’s suspended six games…for bumping the umpire.
  
Um, excuse me…didn’t anyone happen to catch what he did to me?!?!  Hello?
  
And how about you Demp…how’s that pitching hand feel after punching the CRAP out of me, huh?  Feel better now?  Think busting up your hand on my lightning rod logo is going to help things?  Is that listed in your book o’ tricks “How to get out of a horrible rut”?  Don’t think so.
Maybe a little less time getting suspended and losing your crap and a little more time getting timely hits, knocking in some runs and striking some opposing batters out.  
 
I mean, I’m not one to throw folks under the bus, but how about we look around and suggest a few other potential punching bags in the dugout to take your frustrations out on?  How about Soto, maybe a backhand upside the head will knock some sense into his sophomore slump of a season.  How about a quick right to Lee…maybe be Hoffpauir even…take Lee’s spot and in receiving your first sign from Sweet Lou, your first action is smacking Lee upside his head to maybe rattle something inside that head of his in a place that makes hitting for power and average happen?
 
Speaking of Sweet Lou, how about since June is coming up, somebody rough up Lou a bit and shake out one of his famous quarter of the way through the season tantrums that always seems to light a fire under your behinds and get those W’s piling up?  We’ve seen it before and we win with a bench coach filling in for Lou’s managing….hard to win with our team relying on tantrums from Z, Lilly and potential injury causing moves by Dempster to try and light a fire.  C’mon Lou, you and I say hi at least a dozen times a game…slug down some ‘ade, cleanse that pallet and get out there and light a fire, man!
 
I love being in the Cubs dugout.  I dream of a day where I get poured out on someone in celebration of a Cubs World Series.  I’ve already been repaired once this season and this beating Z gave me was WAY over the top.  I want to be here for you guys, but I can’t continue like this.  I’m happy to do my part, but please go back to beating up each other and leave me out of it.  In fact, run around the bases so many times we’re destroying teams like the Cardinals and Brewers or please, stick to destroying each other to light that fire and then come see me for a cold beverage after you’ve both come to and the team is on a tear, ripping up the Central.
 
This team is better than this.  We couldn’t have been held together by Rami and DeRo last year, right?  It’s time you guys step it up and use that energy in a productive way.  Let’s start with the Dodgers.  And most importantly, please stop hitting me.  Hit the Dodgers, hit the Dodgers pitching, hit each other, hit the bars in Wrigleyville.  Whatever it takes.  But please, more W’s and less bats and fists to me.  I’m not the reason you’re losing.  Figure it out fast though because if I have to listen to the Brewers, Cardinals and Pirates dispensers gloat about how awful we are one more time…I’m going to grab one of those bats myself and there’s no telling what might happen then.
 
In tribute to the NBA playoffs…get the W’s this weekend and beat L.A.!  (And it’s hit parade.  Not hit gatorade, for crying out loud).  Go Cubs Go!
 
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Better L8 than never

Dailies

The Cubs are working on their 8 game losing streak as I write this.  Let me rephrase that, hopefully they’re working on ending this 8 game losing streak.  Sitting five games back right now and have recently decided that they’ll lose to the Pirates too.  As my girlfriend just said: “They should stop sucking.”  They should.  

I don’t know how long it’ll take for them to start the stopping but it needs to happen fast.  I knew when I wrote my last post that things didn’t look good, but c’mon.  I didn’t see this coming.  Who did?  Any of you?  
I can’t believe our rotation is going round and round losing back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back games like this.  Ok, fine not all of them were the starters’ fault, but still.  We’re supposed to be good to go in the bullpen too so no excuses there.  Hopefully the streak column in the standings stops at L8 and after tonight we get the long time coming W1.  L8 stinks, but at least with a win we can stop the bleeding.  I mean it’s Pittsburgh, right?  I remember writing blogs last year like “We’ll Always Have Pittsburgh”.  Not enough has happened between then and now to change it so drastically…has it?  Come on Cubbies, let’s get that W!
Go Cubs Go!
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How good are we?

Dailies

Today on Twitter I put it out there that the Cubs would sweep this series from the Cardinals.  So much for that.

Forget should be, could be, would be.  How good ARE we?  Honestly, maybe not that good.
Sure, healthy I think we could be unstoppable.  But this is the major leagues, who wouldn’t be unbelievable at full strength?
It is what it is.  Here’s what it is:
HITTING Cubs ranking across the entire National League:
Batting Avg .252 tied for 11th
SLG Avg .427 ranked 5th
OBP .339 ranked 7th
SO 268 ranked 7th
BB 144 ranked 7th
HR 46 ranked 4th
Hits 312 ranked 13th
Stolen bases 20 ranked 11th
Games 37 (fewest in the NL)
So what are we looking at here.  We’ve played the fewest games in the NL so we don’t have the at-bats the other teams have.  Yet, the at-bats we have had have only been so productive.  Two-thirds of the National League has a better batting average than we do.  About 80% of the league has more hits than we do.  Yet, our walks are up there in the top ten putting our OBP up there in the top ten as well. We’re getting on base and showing above average patience.  Not quite enough in the results category though and somehow while our patience has been rewarded at times with plenty of walks, over half the NL is either more patient than we are overall or are swinging at better pitches than we are as we rank 7th in the NL in strikeouts.  Soriano and Lee of course may step forward, they surely help in that category (Soriano leads the team with 36), but overall, this is an issue.  The key problem with the team so far as far as I can tell by just taking a quick look at the numbers is well displayed in using Soriano as an example in that Soriano also leads the team in home runs, hits, doubles (tied with Fukudome), runs, RBI’s and total bases.  
Can he be amazing some nights? Yeah.  Is he sometimes awful?  Well, yeah.  Does that make him good?  Um…at times?  But certainly no better than that.  And that’s pretty much where the team is performing as a whole.  Lots of moments where we look brilliant and then plenty of examples of ‘wait, what?’  Injuries happen to everyone…every team.  No single player ever won the World Series.  This is a team sport.  So let’s just forget about injury bugs for a while…our bench and back up guys are just as important as the starters.  Their at-bats count just as equally.  They cross home plate, it counts as a run just as it does a starter.  If they fly out, no breaks there.  No half outs.  No mercy rule for bench/support guys.  It is what it is.  And right now, this team…from marquis starter to last guy on the roster, this team isn’t very good. Not often enough anyway.
Thirty seven games in.  21-16, three games behind the Milwaukee Brewers.  That’s what happens when you have a stat sheet that looks like the one listed above.  Starters or supporting players, this team has to get more consistent.  Tonight’s three hit display was pathetic and I agree with a lot of Cubs fans in that we could be sitting pretty right now 20% of the way through the season if we had that fire night in and night out.  I don’t think it’s there right now.  I do believe what I said in my last post that Piniella has done a great job keeping us in the thick of things considering that we’re not at full strength.  Problem is, those that do get to play must get more consistent.  Otherwise, we’re not that good of a ballclub.  At best, we’re ok.  And when was the last time a team that was just ok did anything special?  
Season’s still young but it can get away from you in a hurry.  Let’s hope the guys start hitting their stride, finding that patience at the plate and those that are struggling shake off the rust finally and really start contributing.  Otherwise, maybe it’s time to give some other guys a shot who make a difference on a consistent basis.  
Before I sign off here, let’s take a look at the pitching stats:
PITCHING Cubs ranking across the entire National League:
ERA 4.50 ranked 10th
Wins 21 ranked 4th (behind two others in our own division, Cards and Brewers)
Saves 9 tied for 8th
Hits 293 ranked 15th
ER 163 ranked 8th
HR 45 ranked 2nd most
BB 151 ranked 6th
SO 308 ranked 1st
And yet again, there you go.  For every one thing we’re doing well, there’s something bringing us down to mediocrity.  Should, could, would…paper…forget it all.  This team is going to have to find a way to be much more consistent and develop in the areas they are lagging behind.  It’s up to Lou and the coaches to figure this thing out.  As far as I can tell, more patience at the plate, smarter pitch/swing selection, more control on the mound, keeping the ball down (when the opposition hits it, they are apparently hitting it a LONG way) and perhaps a change at closer is in order to bring this thing up to par.  
Should we be good?  Yes.  Could we be good?  Sure.  Love our roster on paper?  Me too.  Are we all that good?  Right now?  Not really.  Lucky to be three games out.  Let’s see how the rest of this series against the division rival Cardinals goes.  Would be a great time to really start throwing this thing in gear.  Go get ‘em Demp. (oh, and as for which of these guys I think deserves an all-star vote as I promised in my last post?  Just one…Fukudome.  The rest, I’d have a hard time justifying so far).  Go Cubs Go!
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Fried and Tried

Dailies

Three weeks since my last post.  No excuses.  I started a new job on April 6th and I’ve never learned so much or felt like my brain had been squashed and fried to a level mush as I have in the past three weeks.  I get home and all I can do is ‘tweet’ and watch the game.  Statistical analysis and even witty retorts when I get home regarding the Cubs and the Majors are hard to come by when you feel like 90% of your brain isn’t working.  You’ve heard the term ‘leave it all out on the field’?  That’s how I feel like my brain capacity has been performing.  I get home at night and I feel like I have 10% left.  That’s basically enough for me to remember how to put the key in the door, eat dinner and log on to MLB.TV and watch the game.  A few nights I didn’t even get out of the office until 11:00pm.  I was able to log in at the office and watch the game because no one else was around but man my brain could use a little performance enhancing drugs lately.

But like I said in the above paragraph, no excuses.  I should be blogging.  It’s one of the things I enjoy most and if I’m going to hope you guys keep coming back to visit, I know how important it is to keep posting.  I kick this one off like this because of the comment Jeff left in the Prose and Ivy Chat room in the column to the right.  You’re right dude, my bad.  This baseball season has been unreal so far…lots to talk about.  Whatever I can muster up, I’m sure I can manage to unlock the door, eat dinner and log on to MLB.TV on only like 5% brain power and blog with the other 5%.  You’re right, my bad.
I’ll admit too, without going into details, I’ve been straight up bummed lately.  I’ve been performing stand up comedy for eleven and a half years now, acting for about half of that and producing tv/film projects for half of THAT, including a few pilots for my own shows that I created and have pitched to networks.  Simply to get this off my chest before diving into baseball because I really haven’t told anyone about it and it’s really effected my desire to write lately, I recently found out that an idea of mine may have been straight up stolen by a network.  I won’t say who and I won’t say what, but I will say this.  A production company I have a deal with to represent my pilot in the marketplace recently pitched the project to said network.  They loved the idea.  They thought it would be a great companion to another show they have in the same genre.  When they said what they show was, I couldn’t believe my ears.  They were basically telling the production company in the pitch that my new idea would pair up nicely to a show they have coming out and without them knowing that the production company that was pitching it to them was representing me…basically…without them knowing who they were talking to…stated that they have a show I pitched to them a year ago.  They loved it and thought it’d be perfect for their demographic yet nothing happened.  ONE year later and all of a sudden they have a show JUST like it coming out…that I CREATED.  It’s up to the lawyers to do their thing now, but I seriously can’t believe it.  I commit eleven and a half years of my life to my career in comedy and just like that, instead of enjoying what should be an amazing time in my career, successfully getting a show I created that I would write, produce and star in on the air…I have to deal with this crappy side of it where it seems to have been stolen out from under me.  Some executive at the network with no tie to the dedication and amount of time that I’ve poured into my career does something completely unethical and now here I am in this position.  It sucks.  It seriously sucks.  And it’s effected my desire to do a whole lot of anything accompanied with the exhaustion of the new job.
Anyway.  I came to the page today and while I’ve occasionally posted a comment in my chat box or a tweet on Twitter over the past few weeks, I hadn’t really blogged.  When I came on today and saw Jeff’s comment about me not blogging in a while, it bummed me out further.  I love this blog, I love following the Cubbies and love communicating with everyone on here about the season.  Can’t let frustration or exhaustion get in the way of my enjoyment on here and I’ll have to remember that going forward.  Thanks for the kick in the **** there Jeff, appreciate it.
ALL of that being said (phew) game and a half out tonight as it stands and a crazy season so far across baseball and in the NL Central.  I can’t believe we’re looking at four team race and I can’t help but wonder if it will hold up the entire season.  I can’t help but hope the Big Z comes around and the injury bugs decide to fly elsewhere for a bit.  The article on here about Fukudome and his old batting coach recovering his old stroke was really interesting.  Comparing hitting to boxing is really smart.  Have to use your legs and transfer the power properly or else you’re going nowhere.  Hopefully Fukudome will keep it going throughout the entire season this year since he’s got one year under his belt and doesn’t have to worry about things like moving his entire family over and adapting completely to a whole new environment and batch of new teammates.  
Soriano looks great, it’d be great if Lee would wake up.  Bradley for that matter. I feel like if Bradley were to come around and Lee wakes up, this is going to be a whole different race in the Central.  I can’t believe we’re only 1.5 games out with the injuries we’ve had to Z, Lee, Zambrano, Bradley, Ramirez, Soto…and on and on.  This team, healthy…very dangerous.  Can’t wait to see us heal and start tearing away in the Central.  No expectations…but come on.  This roster, healthy?  Good stuff.
I don’t know about sticking with Gregg.  Long term anyway. I understand we’re only midway through May so I wouldn’t quite jump the gun and make the switch yet either (to Marmol) but seriously, Gregg has to be on the on the edge of his seat and looking into his rearview mirror all season long knowing that there is a perfectly capable firethrower that could step in and take over in a second.  We’re lucky to have the situation we have with two capable pitchers with some teams barely competing with closers that can hardly claim to put any real fear in the opposing batters.  Just need Gregg to be more consistent and then no reason to look in the rearview and all the world to be confident, use Marmol’s gun to set him up and close out the eighth before Gregg shuts ‘em down in the ninth.
I like the way Piniella has worked the rosters and obtained the most out of this bunch this year.  Can’t be easy when the middle of the lineup is mush.  I know about mush.  Not easy to work with.
Here something maybe some of you Cubs fans can answer for me…here’s Cubs.com photo of this year’s Cubs to vote for for the All-Star game.  
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‘Chicago’

Dailies

My dad and stepmom came to visit this weekend.  They hadn’t come to visit for about eight years and it was great to have them here.  My dad especially always thinks the city is going to be too hot, too cold, too crowded, too…something. Lately it’s been beautiful outside.  60’s.  Upper 70’s.  Spring.  Baseball weather.  Beautiful.

And then came Sunday.  90 degrees beating down on the NYC pavement…and of course, the one day in nearly the past decade that my dad chose to visit.  Figures.

We had a great time regardless.  He and my stepmom had never been to Central Park so we took a long walk.  Beat the heat with some ice cream and waters bought at those carts you find in parks across the country.  I only just recently decided to eat hot dogs sold from a cart.  A baseball hot dog is a wonderful thing.  Something about buying a hot dog from a baseball vendor or at a concession stand at a stadium just feels right.  Buying a hot dog from a weird man with a dirty cart filled with old hot water…not quite the same appeal.  However, they are $2 and sometimes, especially lately, a two dollar lunch is just what the checking account ordered.

There were kids all over the Alice in Wonderland statue.  People driving remote controlled boats at the boat pond.  A Greek parade pouring down Fifth Avenue.  Lots of people out sunbathing and people walking their dogs everywhere.  A great Summertime scene in 90 degree weather smack in the middle of Spring.

We went out to eat for every meal which something I really only do when company is in town visiting.  My stepmom was talking about the Yankees/Red Sox games she caught over the weekend and how exciting they were.  Great games sure, but on top of that, the Red Sox won.  She’s one of those fans who have recently come back around to baseball.  She’s in her early 60’s and after the 1994 strike, she had had enough.  Too much focus on money and greed for her to respect the game she once loved.  Enough years passed though and she’s come around again.  Rooting for the Red Sox like she always has.  Of course for a while there it was because she liked to go sit in the outfield and check out Dwight Evans booty.  Now though, it’s simply for love the Sox and having something in common with her grandchildren who live in CT.

We had tickets to see ‘Chicago’ on Broadway Sunday night and she kidded about skipping it to watch the Sox/Yanks on Sunday night baseball.  She decided she could hang in there though (of course) and enjoy the show based on the movie she’s loved since she saw it.  I hadn’t seen the movie so I didn’t know what to expect.  Let me tell you…this show (and I’m sure film) does not paint a very pretty picture of Chicago.  Murders, crimes, lies, etc…I understand the city has a reputation for crooked politicians…but they sure didn’t try to shine a light on anything positive with regards to Chicago, that’s for sure.  I mean come on, throw a baseball fan a bone and mention Wrigley or something, ya know?  Of course with the way this show was going, if there had been a baseball reference, it surely would’ve been about the Black Sox scandal.

Anyway, the show was great.  Not one of my favorites of all the shows I’ve seen in New York, but up there among one of the better performances…especially when it comes to less is more.  They do a lot with hardly any set or stage frills and you’re entertained the whole time.  Which really, is a lot like the Cubs now that I think about it.  Wrigley Field.  Barebones.  Old school.  No real frills.  No cookie cutter park.  Bare essentials.  Few thrills or real ‘characters’ when it comes to our lineup.  Just hardnosed baseball that entertains you the whole time you’re at the park or following the season.  Pretty cool in that respect considering the show is called ‘Chicago’.

Some of the songs in the show remind me of some of the Cubs roster though.  Just for fun (considering we’re a few games in back of the Cards right now…not exactly the April I had hoped for) here are some of the songs that made me think of Cubs players and the players that match up:

“I Can’t Do It Alone” – Carlos Zambrano.  Ace of the staff.  No-hitter last year.  We know he’s going to bring it every time he takes the mound.  But he is not going to be able to do this thing alone. Demp, Lilly, Harden and Marshall are all going to have to step their games up if we want to repeat in the Central again this year.

“My Own Best Friend” – Aramis Ramirez.  Pretty much our only quality at third base.  Without a true backup, he’s basically his own best friend on the hot corner. Aramis goes down and we’re pretty screwed at third.  We need his glove and bat all season long.  Injuries will come and go…let’s hope Ramirez isn’t effected too often in ’09.

“Mister Cellophane” – Micah Hoffpauir.  This really applied stronger during Spring Training.  Lately Micah has been getting his share of at bats and his talent is no longer see through to Lou.  He’s giving him a chance to shine in the regular season like he did in Spring Training.  Not ready to give up on Lee by any means, but like DeRosa was great to have as a quality anywhere kind of guy, Micah is the closest thing we have to that right now on the ballclub and it’s good to see he’s finally getting noticed.

“All I Care About” – Chicago Cubs fans.  While the character that sings this in the show is rather sarcastic in singing that all he cares about is love…I think Cubs fans would be genuine.  Sure we want the trophy after all these years…but there has to be a reason we come back year in and year out.  For love the Cubs, we wouldn’t come back if it was all we really cared about.  Championships are nice and a World Series title would be insane, but be honest, you’ll keep coming back regardless.

All in all it was a great weekend.  Took my dachshund to the dachshund festival on Saturday and it was hilarious.  Dad and stepmom came in on Sunday and we had a blast in the big city, can’t wait for them to come back again.  The show was a great time and a real treat for them to take us.  Chicago needs to do something to change that rep though, it really doesn’t come off all that great in the show.  Maybe something big is needed to make people think about it differently…like I don’t know…a Cubs championship perhaps?

Couldn’t hurt.  Go Cubs Go!

AUDIO POST: Prose and Ivy on the United Cardinal Bloggers Hour!

Dailies

Below is the podcast recording of my guest appearance on the United Cardinal Bloggers Hour Wednesday night.  The hosts were real welcoming, knowledgable and great to have a conversation with regarding Cubs and Cardinals baseball.  With the series coming up this weekend it was a great opportunity to pick each other’s brains about the respective opponent.  They said they’d keep things civil in enemy territory more or less and they did.  I had a blast and would look forward to appearing on the show again if invited back in the future.  Some of the highlighted topics of the conversation, among others:

  • AC000000 – please explain for Cards fans what that’s all about
  • The DeRosa trade
  • Expectations of the 2009 Cubs
  • ’07-’08 Playoffs
  • Injuries and other Potential challenges to the Cubs in 2009
  • (and from Tom @ CardinalsGM.com) What’s your perception of how Cubs fans feel about D-Lee?  Are they ready to sit him and bring in Hoffpauir to start at first?

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/BTRPlayer.swf?file=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eblogtalkradio%2Ecom%2FUCB%2DHost%2Fplay%5Flist%2Exml%3Fitemcount%3D4&autostart=false&bufferlength=20&volume=77.7777777777778&borderweight=1&bordercolor=#999999&backgroundcolor=#FFFFFF&dashboardcolor=#0098CB&playlistcolor=#999999&playlisthovercolor=#333333&cornerradius=10&callback=http://www.blogtalkradio.com/FlashPlayerCallback.aspx?referrer_url=/Profile.aspx

(NOTE: As of 4/27/09, the show I was on is the fourth one down on the list of shows.  If you don’t want to listen to the whole show and only tune in to my appearance, after hitting play, click inside the play tracking bar right above the middle of the envelope icon.  That should take you right to where my interview started.)  It was a great experience.  Great meeting Kathy from Redbirdchatter.mlblogs.com who was on as a guest as well.  I put it out there that I predict the Cubs take 3 out of 4 this weekend.  Cards take game one and the Cubs take the next three.  We’ll see.  Go Cubs Go!
 

Listen tonight as I guest on the United Cardinals Bloggers Radio Hour

Dailies

I’m going in.

Cardinals/Cubs series this weekend Thursday-Sunday at Wrigley.  The Cubs will have home-field on their side…I won’t be so lucky come this evening.

If you get a chance tonight, listen in to the United Cardinals Bloggers Radio Hour (link here) and hear me guest as we chat about all things baseball, including this weekend’s Cubs/Cards series.  Not so sure that there will be any other Cub fans included as guests so Cubs fans should feel free to call in and back me up!  (Actually, the guys mentioned that they’d keep it civil…but you never know when it comes to this rivalry!  I’m definitely looking forward to it so if you get a chance, dial it up on-line.  Also on tonight as a guest is fellow MLBLogger Redbird Chatter.  Should be a great time and an even better series this weekend!

Had a chance to watch today’s game on-line and man…does it hurt to get beat by Marquis!  Losing at Wrigley is always a horrible feeling…but having a cast-off and lay down the beating?  Not cool.  And Marquis and his stuff?  Please.  That was pathetic.

Opening Day on the other hand was awesome.  Cubs have opened the first week of the season up strong going 5-3, currently in second place behind the Cardinals.  Lilly was amazing through seven delivering the goods no one is to speak of until it’s over (you know what I’m saying) and it’s great to see him come out strong.  Not concerned at all about Zambrano, can’t wait to see him this weekend.  I feel bad for teams who don’t have that ace that makes you believe every five starts you are going to win.  Great fun in having that with Zambrano…wish I could make the Apr 21 game against the Reds to get the Zambrano no-hitter statue.  That thing is pretty cool and a great symbol of an amazing pitching performance.  Love Dempster and expect great things from him this year.  Harden got roughed up today but again, it’s early, not concerned.

Soriano is having one of his best Aprils so far ever, especially in the past few seasons and Fukudome seems to be in his April zone like last year.  With Bradley injured with a bum groin (surprise) it’s going to be important he performs like he’s capable of.  I love the balance in the lineup Bradley brings, but this injury is a great opportunity to see Reed play a whole lot more. Nothing wrong with that.

Hopefully Soto comes around.  Sore shoulders and catchers?  Not a good mix.  If Soto is healthy I don’t foresee a sophomore slump so hopefully his body holds it together.  Same with Ramirez and Gregg actually.  Injuries could be a huge problem for this team this year, something that could ruin plans we’d all love to make come October.  Ramirez’s bat and glove don’t have the back up Gregg does.  Marmol can step up and close I feel without a real problem…backing up Ramirez?  That’s much tougher.  Miles at 2B and Fontenot at 3B isn’t exactly the ideal.

Lee on the other hand.  Aside from today’s solo shot, it’s been a slow start and really the only weak link in the healthy part of the Cubs lineup right now.  I’m kind of hard on Lee because I expect a lot from him.  He needs to step it up and be his a Cardinal killer this weekend.  Any time we get the Cards at Wrigley, we have to take advantage of it.  Playing in St. Louis is never easy…need to get these four games this weekend while we’re inside the Friendly Confines.

We’ll see how friendly the podcast/radio hour confines are this evening.  Can’t wait to talk Cubs baseball with hard-core baseball fans.  Again, call in if you get a chance and say hey.  Come back soon for a new post recapping the experience!

Go Cubs Go!

Are we there yet? YES!!!

Dailies
Thankfully, yes…FINALLY.  Tomorrow is:
And the games finally count!!!
Huge changes this year.  No DeRo.  Milton Bradley’s bat balances the lineup.  Gregg as our closer.  A possibly recently disgruntled Marmol as our setup guy.  More playing time for Fontenot and a new guy named Miles.  Soto with a solid all-star season under his belt raring to go in an effort to avoid the sophomore slump.  All this and more equals a very interesting prospect that is the 2009 Chicago Cubs MLB season.  And I am ready.
I got my new gear:
I got my new Cubs Club card:
I got my MLB.TV:
I got my New York Chicago Cubs Fan Meetup group:
And the Opening Day roster is set:
I’m ready.
I decided at the end of 2008 I would no longer expect anything, simply enjoy the ride.  That’s exactly what I’m going to do in ’09.  I have no expectations.  Zero.  Simply go out and enjoy the season, all of it’s ups and downs and bumps and bruises and highs and lows.  Come October, we’ll see where that brought us.  It will be hard to maintain this mindset for sure, but it’s my new approach to being a Cubs fan.  I think we have a great chance and I wouldn’t devote as much time to the team if I didn’t always think this was the year.  However, after 101 years of it not, it’s time to stop expecting a change and simply enjoy the ride no matter the outcome.  That’s going to be tough like I said, but it’s definitely worth a shot.
That being said, here are my 2009 MLB Predictions.  Predictions that is.  Not expectations.
AL EAST
1. Boston Red Sox
2. New York Yankees
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. Tampa Bay Rays
5. Toronto Blue Jays
AL CENTRAL
1. Cleveland Indians
2. Minnesota Twins (WC)
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Kansas City Royals
5. Detroit Tigers
AL WEST
1. Los Angeles Angels
2. Oakland A’s
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Texas Rangers
NL EAST
1. New York Mets
2. Philadelphia Phillies
3. Atlanta Braves
4. Florida Marlins
5. Washington Nationals
NL CENTRAL
1. Chicago Cubs
2. Milwaukee Brewers
3. Cincinnati Reds
4. St. Louis Cardinals
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
NL WEST
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Francisco Giants (WC)
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
4. Colorado Rockies
5. San Diego Padres
ALDS
Red Sox over Indians
Twins over Angels
NLDS
Cubs over Giants
Mets over Dodgers
LCS
Red Sox over Twins
Cubs over Mets
World Series
Cubs over Red Sox
And there you have it.  Your 2009 MLB World Series Champions, the Chicago Cubs.  Streak dead.  AC000000.  No expectations.  Simply a prediction.  Go Cubs Go!!!

PonDeRosa

Dailies

Spend any time lately thinking perhaps dealing DeRosa is going to come back and bite the Cubs in the behind this season?  Time will tell.  But hearing the Sox announcers mention it today, as well as reading this article in the New York Times about DeRosa’s value to Team USA got me thinking again, you know what…maybe it will…check it out.

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The Great Debate – Why is this your team’s year?

Dailies

Alright Cub fans, let me hear from you…your best argument to all other baseball fans as to why THIS YEAR is THE year that we finally claim another championship, our first since 1908!!  Fans of other teams…feel free to tell us why we’re crazy to think so…again.

Go Cubs Go!
 

One City, Two Teams, Three Home Runs

Dailies

One City.  New York City.  The city that never sleeps.  

I can attest that while the city never sleeps, I for one am again looking forward to doing so this evening.  The new job is seriously a TON of stuff to learn: procedures, issues, tactics, strategies, training staff, outreach in the freezing cold, planning meetings and on and on.  It’s one of the most fascinating ways to spend 60 hours a week though I must say.  I really do feel like I’m making a difference and doing something that truly matters, which is a cool feeling.  I’d love to be in front of the computer all day to watch Cubs games on-line, or listening to games on the radio.  A lot of these Spring Training games are obviously during the day so I’ve been checking out box scores, watching highlights and reading up on all the latest news and updates.  I can’t wait for the city to warm up and regular season games to back again.  I already have it marked down when the Cubs come to town to play the Mets at Citi Field and am hoping to check out an exhibition game at the new Yankee Stadium when the Cubs are in town as well.  That would be awesome.

Within this massive city however, depending on where you live, hang out, frequent, the baseball population is strongly divided between the Yankees and Mets.  It’s rare to find a fan who roots for both teams as it is extremely looked down upon and hardly anyone takes you seriously if you claim to do so.  Much like trying to sell someone in Chicago that you are both a White Sox and Cubs fan.  Yeah, right.

Now every now and then you come across a Red Sox fan.  Many have joined the bandwagon for sure since their recent success starting in 2004 but considering we’re on the East coast, it’s really not surprising.  People move (like a lot of the transplanted fans with blogs in this community), people rebel against family, friends and ex’s to be different, people get attached to players that lead them to root for certain teams regardless of their zip code and again others simply climb aboard the band wagon.  A lot Sox fans populate New York as well and it’s hard to tell who the Yankee fans hate more.  I’m guessing it’s the Sox, but a crosstown rivalry is exactly that and there’s a lot to be said for it.  Considering the Sox have the upper-hand as of late though, you don’t hear a lot of trash talking (or as much anyway) between Yankee fans and Sox fans, although they still enjoy picking on Mets fans.  Calling them the JV team, saying their old stadium was a dumpster or simply enjoying watching their fans get amped up over projected success just to see their hopes crushed with two consecutive seasons of late season meltdown.  This is essentially the baseball landscape in New York.  A few Sox fans scattered throughout…but mainly a hard, loyal divide between Yankee fans and Mets fans.  I’m sure it’s no surprise that those two teams get the most attention considering they both play here, but still, between the two of them I don’t really envy either.  The ones I look at with a bit of green under the collar and for no reason related to my new job, are the Red Sox fans.

Red Sox fans walk among Yankee fans and Mets fans, nowadays, with their heads held high.  Between years of AL East beatings and Buckner, both sides had something to say to them to give them a hard time if spotted walking down the street displaying their team loyalty be it a cap or jacket, t-shirt, etc.  This is no longer a problem for them.  Now, they basically walk around and get the same response as Cubs fans.

There aren’t a whole lot of us in comparison to the Yankee and Mets fans understandably.  However, there are more than you’d expect.  I’d say on average, at least once a day I see someone walking around with a Cubs hat on.  Like Jeep drivers are known for honking at a fellow Jeep driver on the road to salute the car they have in common, so do Cubs fans acknowledge each other as we pass on the streets of New York.  We have to.  We’re all in this together and in a foreign land at that.  I’ve walked down the street wearing my Cubs gear and constantly here it from construction workers who want to talk about last night’s game.  From kids who love the Cubs and shout out “Go Cubs” as their parent proudly smiles and waves as they go by.  From baseball fans at gatherings (bars, ESPN sports zone, etc) with just the utmost respect for the dedication we show as Cubs fans, or the most absolute confusion that we’ve hung in there for so long.  Some laugh at the belief that every year is THE year and others completely respect it as they know there’s no other reason to be a ‘fan’. From the word fanatic, as a fanatic, you have to belief, simply by definition if for no other reason.

And it’s that respect that Cubs fans are shown in New York City.  Abracadabra, a loyal reader of this blog asked me what it was like being a Cubs fan in New York recently and I decided I would post about it.  This is pretty much what it’s like.  Surrounded in one of the biggest cities in the world by millions who root for one of two other teams, with the occasional yet more frequent than expected encounter of a fellow Cubs fan with similar, friendly, Cubs logo-bearing fan gear who also can’t wait to see how the Cubs do this year, believe this is the year and tune in however we can (on-line mostly, or the occasional ESPN game) to follow every moment of the season.  I recently joined a Cubs meetup group in the city and I can’t wait to experience ’09 with the Cubs fans I’ll meet as a result.  Always fun to meet fellow Cubs fans and enjoy the season together, especially when we’re all in this together.  And we might as well be together, we’re outnumbered for sure…and one day, when the sign reads AC000000, the disbelief and rare teasing will cease to exist from New York baseball fans.  They will all look at us with the respect that a championship ballclub’s fans deserve, the same way they now look at Red Sox fans.  Aside from being in Chicago, I honestly wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the country experiencing Cubs baseball and enjoying the baseball community as diverse, fun, exciting, humiliating, frustrating and fascinating as it is in New York.  Not sure if that was detailed enough, but that’s basically what it’s like being a Cubs fan in New York.  In a word?  I’d say it’s actually pretty ‘awesome’.

Today’s game was amazing.  Three home runs by the Cubs…Soriano, Fox, and Ramirez going deep.  Always great to see the bats warming up during the Spring, getting ready for the pitches to count come Opening Day.  Marshall had a great day with three perfect innings and Gregg looked great too.  Piniella says Marmol pitching in the WBC won’t effect the closer competition.  I hope he’s right.  Gregg was great and I’d love him in the set up role, but I’m still a big fan of having Marmol as our closer.  Time will tell, but it was great checking the box score and seeing the three of them going yard and having Marshall and Gregg step up with outstanding performances.

Hope everyone in New York, Chicago, Boston and really everywhere else is enjoying the excitement of Spring Training.  I know I am…I just can’t wait for these games to count for real!  Go Cubs Go!

Dempster v. Peavy and…Curt Schilling?

Dailies

Arguably the Cubs MVP of last season, Ryan Dempster takes the mound today against San Diego and coveted starting Padres pitcher, Jake Peavy.  Talk about a game that has something for everyone.  Padres fans get to see how their team is doing and shaping up, Cubs fans get to see how their ballclub looks as they hope to extend their Spring winning streak to five and baseball fans get to see presumably two innings of Spring pitchers’ duel between two of the strongest starting pitchers in the NL Central.

Watching what Dempster offers up is always fun to watch and it will be interesting to see Peavy up close and personal. The guy many of us Cubs fans were hoping would be added to the starting rotation by Opening Day, displaying why we hope the young pitching we obtained in trades for Pie and DeRosa magically morph into ‘Peavy’ on the Opening Day roster. Chances of that trade happening are slim at this point, but still it will be fun to check out.

Apparently there is another pitcher on the Cubs’ radar that could be a much more likely solution when it comes to the fifth spot in the rotation this year.  That recent development?  Curt Schilling.

Mr. Clutch.  Mr. Literal Red Sox.  Mr. Need a Championship?  I’m Your Guy, Curt Schilling.  

Is it still possible for him to deliver as he has in the past after missing last season?  Who knows.  Would I prefer Peavy?  Of course.  But if Peavy isn’t coming…who would you rather?  Heilman, Marshall…or take a chance on Schilling?  I’d take my chances on Schilling.  Reports have it that if he were to join the team, he’d probably be ready to contribute come mid-season on out, no sooner.  He wouldn’t cost too much either…which combined with his resume and playoff experience sounds like a bargain to me.  Tampa Bay is the other team Schilling is considering offering his services to if said team were to be interested.  They haven’t won the big one either, but come on.  If you’re going to make a last ditch statement in your already Hall of Fame credential career by helping a team end their championship drought, where better to do it than in Chicago with the Cubs?  Nowhere.  Chicago Cubs is the no-brainer choice between the two.  

Now it’s just a matter of whether Hendry and company feel like he’s worth a chance.  I know I think he is.  Until then, looking forward to enjoying another Spring outing by Dempster and seeing what may still be in a Cubs uniform this season in Jake Peavy.

Curt Schilling…possibly in a Cubs uniform this season, huh?  Didn’t see that coming…you?

Do your thing today Demp…Go Cubs Go!

Today’s Win against the Sox…4-0 on the Spring! Heilman Strong as are Hoffpauir and Hill

Dailies
CHI WHITE SOX (0) AT CHICAGO CUBS (13)

 CHI WHITE SOX    AB  R  H BI  CHICAGO CUBS     AB  R  H BI
 B Lillibridge 2b- 4  0  0  0  A Soriano lf      2  0  0  0
 A Pierzynski c    3  0  1  0  D Deeds lf        2  1  1  0
 C Armstrong c     1  0  0  0  A Miles ss        2  1  1  0
 C Quentin lf      3  0  0  0  A Blanco ss       2  1  1  2
 B Myrow 1b        1  0  0  0  D Barney pr-ss    0  0  0  0
 J Thome dh        3  0  1  0  D Lee 1b          3  1  1  0
 G Beckham ph-dh   1  0  0  0  J Fox 1b          2  1  0  0
 J Dye rf          3  0  1  0  M Hoffpauir dh    4  1  2  1
 M Restovich rf    1  0  0  0  S Clevenger ph-dh 1  0  0  0
 A Ramirez ss      2  0  0  0  A Ramirez 3b      3  0  0  1
 J Nix 2b          1  0  0  0  L Rivas pr-3b     1  1  0  0
 J Kroeger 1b-lf   4  0  0  0  M Fontenot 2b     2  1  1  0
 J Fields 3b       2  0  0  0  B Scales 2b       2  1  2  3
 J Castillo 3b     1  0  1  0  B Snyder rf       5  2  2  4
 D Wise cf         4  0  2  0  K Hill c          3  0  1  2
                               W Castillo c      1  1  0  0
                               J Gathright cf    3  0  0  0
                               S Fuld cf         2  1  2  0
 TOTALS           34  0  6  0  TOTALS           40 13 14 13

 CHI WHITE SOX             000 000 000 --  0
 CHICAGO CUBS              000 220 90x -- 13

 E--E Caridad, L Rivas, B Lillibridge, J Kroeger.
 LOB--CHI WHITE SOX 9, CHICAGO CUBS 11. 2B--K Hill,
 J Thome, D Wise. HR--B Snyder 1 (1) (off A
 Russell). CS--J Fields.
                                   IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO  HR
  CHI WHITE SOX
 J Marquez                          2   0   0   0   1   2   0
 M Thornton                         1   0   0   0   1   1   0
 E Wassermann (L,0-1)               1   3   2   2   0   1   0
 O Dotel                            1   3   2   2   1   2   0
 R Williams                         1   0   0   0   1   0   0
 A Russell                          0   5   8   6   1   0   1
 B Salmon                           1   2   1   1   1   1   0
 J Nunez                            1   1   0   0   0   3   0
  CHICAGO CUBS
 A Heilman                          2   1   0   0   0   4   0
 K Gregg                            1   1   0   0   0   1   0
 N Cotts (W,1-0)                    1   1   0   0   1   0   0
 D Patton                           2   1   0   0   0   2   0
 K Kadokura                         1   1   0   0   1   1   0
 J Waddell                          1   0   0   0   0   0   0
 E Caridad                          1   1   0   0   0   1   0

 WP--O Dotel. HBP--A Blanco by J Nunez, J Fox by A
 Russell. SO--CHW: B Lillibridge 3, A Ramirez 2, J
 Thome 2, D Wise, J Kroeger. CHC: A Soriano 2, J
 Gathright, B Snyder, S Clevenger, D Deeds, J Fox,
 W Castillo, M Fontenot, M Hoffpauir. BB--CHW: J
 Fields, A Ramirez. CHC: A Miles, A Soriano, W
 Castillo, M Fontenot, D Deeds, L Rivas. T--2:56.
 A--13,010.

Observations and Salutations

Dailies

Three games into Spring Training and the Cubs are 3-0.  Sweet.  Hoffpauir has looked great at the plate in both power stats and patience.  I kind of feel bad for guys like Hoffpauir and Fox though because it seems like every Spring these guys deliver unbelievably consistent stats, yet we simply have no room for them on the 25 man roster.  It’s a shame too.  It must drive these guys crazy.  Hopefully one of them breaks through this year somehow, especially if their Spring is as impressive as Springs past.  Hoffpauir’s the DH today so he’ll have another chance to shine this afternoon.

What’s up Lilly!  I’m happy to hear that you have the Cubs’ best interests in mind when it comes to your pitch count in the WBC.  Everytime I hear that, it feels like a boxing championship someone is trying to win.  Anyway, I always enjoy hearing that organizations have prevented their key players from playing in this tournament.  I know it’s a great thing for the game and a fun exhibition of the world’s greatest sport.  However, when you’re investing millions in guys to come through when it counts during the regular season, it’s too scary of a possibility that the guy goes down to injury in an exhibition competition.  Big Z, Lilly, Harden, Dempster and Marshall.  Ok, fine.  But if we were to lose any of those top four it would make us extremely vulnerable and a much less powerhouse in the National League.  The Cubs are definitely the on-paper favorites to repeat in the Central but a huge part of that is pitching.  We can’t lose Lilly to something stupid so I’m glad he has the team’s best interests at heart.  Have a great time Lilly, but come back healthy for sure.

Speaking of staying healthy…what’s up with the quad Milt?  We definitely need that to be a precautionary measure in pulling himself from the game the other day.  Milton Bradley makes this team so much better, especially when you figure his power in the middle of the order allows for us to keep Soriano up top leading off and not constantly questioning if we should be using his power later on in the order.  Not sure that he’ll end up leading off yet having not seen much from Theriot or Miles as of yet this Spring…but more than likely that’s where Piniella will start him come Opening Day.

I know it’s been a little while since his signing and I’m not even sure he’ll make the roster, but I like the signing of Taguchi. From what I’ve seen of the guy he can be pretty clutch late in games when you need a big hit.  If he sticks, his bat may be a great option off the bat here and there throughout the season.  The Cubs are in a great situation with how deep they are, a great problem to have.  Tons of people to look at and consider this Spring.  I’d love to be a fly on the wall in Piniella’s office throughout S.T. and the regular season.  That would be fascinating.  The flying ability would be cool too.

Today the Cubs and the White Sox take their crosstown rivalry across the country to battle in exhibition.  Heilman will get the start for the Cubs.  Living in New York, I’ve seen quite a bit of Heilman over the years.  He’s a guy that would surprise me if he were to take the fifth starter spot in the rotation.  It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the couple innings he gets today, as well as how Rami looks at third.  Always good to get those cuts in, work out the kinks from the winter months.  It came up in the chat box I have set up here in the right hand column the other day as to who should back up Ramirez at third.  Any Cubs fans out there have a preference?  I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

The Cubs have outscored their opponents 22-11 so far this season.  11 runs given up in 27 innings.  Not too shabby, but could definitely be better.  22 runs in three games.   Looking good.  Good start to the Spring.

Here’s to a good ol’ fashion walloping of the Sox today.  Go Cubs Go!

The 2009 Campaign Begins! Go Cubs Go!!! : )

Dailies

CUBS BASEBALL IS BACK!!!!

That…is…awesome.

And Hoffpauir is awesome.  His grand slam put the Cubs in front of the Dodgers for good today.  25 man roster here he comes? Only time will tell.  Below is the box score from today’s game.  Great to get back in the swing of things.

Wow…blog puns can really be horrible.

Just started a new job running the campaign outreach office in New York City for Greenpeace’s fight against global warming and I am exhausted.  All of last week was spent in DC in meetings and conference getting caught up with all the issues and campaign updates up until now so that’s why I haven’t posted in a bit.  I have a few great ideas for postings though, one in particular that was suggested to me by fellow Cubs fan and regular Prose and Ivy chat box participant, Abracadabra.  I’ll probably put in about 65 hours by the end of the week so as soon as I get a good nap this weekend, I’ll be writing and fleshing out these ideas!!  Looking forward to that…and let’s be honest, the nap too.
Keep checking back for game box scores, quick analysis and updates on the Cubs’ spring training though.  Regular postings on Cubs games and the team in general will be here all Spring long, right into the regular season.  ALSO, all of you are welcome to put in your two cents on the chat board located in the right hand column of this page.  Fans and I are chatting about all kinds of subjects related to the Cubs including starting pitching, CF, 2B, the roster, the closer situation, the NL Central, etc…I invite you to participate and join the chat as well as feel free to start a new conversation there about anything related to Cubs baseball.
Looking forward to tomorrow’s game against the Crew.  Go Cubs Go!!!
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Signs of Things to Come, But In More Ways Than One?

Dailies

So yes, obviously, pun intended.  Every year the Cubs gear up an ad campaign to get the fans excited about the team and the upcoming season.  This year, it’s based around the world famous Wrigley Field marquee.  The images below are of the ads and tag lines they’ve come up with this year.  Personally, I only like the winter and heaven’s ballpark ones.  How do you guys feel about them?  Anyone else see them as subtle reminders that new ownership means VERY LIKELYchanges to the stadium’s name and marquee?  That was the first thing I thought of when I saw them.

Love that last one.
Joined a Cubs meet up group today to share the joys and heart aches of 2009 with other Cubs fans in New York City.  I’ll keep you posted on that experience throughout the entire season.  If it’s any where near as much fun as sharing the season with everyone associated with MLBlogs and the loyal readers of Prose and Ivy, I’m sure it will be a blast!  GO CUBS GO!

A-Rod, You Disgust Me.

Dailies

And yet, you don’t surprise me.

MLB can do nothing about evidence showing that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003.  That is a shame.

It is a shame that we as fans are expected to root for cheaters.  Nearly 101 years of Cubs baseball without a World Championship.  Were we victims of cats, over zealous fans and straight up chokes…or an entire league filled with cheaters giving them the advantage over us.  Sosa would be the first Cub people would come up with as far as a player who may have used and they’d suggest that we too had our fair share of players that have used performance enhancing substances throughout the steroid era.  Cork has been proven, but that’s about it on Sosa.  No other Cub has really come up in these talks over the past few years yet I wouldn’t be surprised if some names turn up over time.  Of course Palmiero came up time and again and he spent some years as a Cub and I can’t say I’m positive no other Cub has ever used.  I just hope that the whole steroids-in-baseball-thing ends here with A-Rod.  And of course, anyone that hasn’t already been mentioned that may be listed among the other 103 players included in this, up until now, confidential testing from 2003.

Wouldn’t that be great.  Wouldn’t it be great if we’ve heard all the names, or at least have all the names, and we could put an end to doubting what we see before us.  To be able to believe in the purity of the achievements we see day in and day out on the field, throughout this season and every seasons that follows.  To know that whatever amazing stats are posted, were earned and achieved on pure physical ability and never doubted otherwise.  To know that once the Cubs hoist the trophy in the middle of Chicago in a World Series parade, that no Cub on the team cheated and the team earned it fair and square.  That would be a great thing.

As of now, I feel like these fluke occurrences (Bartman) and supernatural oddities (goat, cat) weren’t the only things that have provided Cub fans with heartache.  It’s these cheaters, like A-Rod.  Those who succumbed to the pressure of performing at a certain level that their bodies couldn’t deliver.  Those who felt the need to live up to contract deals that their overall ability could never justify.  Nearly 101 years of no titles for the Cubs, because of people like A-Rod.  Disgusting.  And MLB says they can’t do anything about it.

What a shame.

You know what though, on the other hand, so what.  We all know Bonds cheated and his records are forever tarnished.  Now, A-Rod, the guy that was supposed to pass Bonds and clear the top of the lists in the record books of asterisks comes with one giant, glaring one of his own.  MLB doesn’t have to do anything to A-Rod.  We already know he cheated and from now on, he’ll just be another cheater in baseball fans’ eyes.

To say steroids is a part of baseball is possibly a true statement, but it is a shame.  I suppose it’s also human nature to cheat and try to achieve as much as you can whether you have earned it or not.  You know what though, human nature also allows for those of us who are better than that, to decide to not go down that road and rise above it.  We can all think of things that would progress us further and faster in our own careers.  That doesn’t mean we have to do it.  You can be the top paid guy on the totem pole (maybe not $252 million) and still not give in to cheating.  It’s too bad all we have to play the game are imperfect human beings.  The game deserves better than that.  We as fans deserve better than that.  And MLB, as one of your biggest fans, right now I hope you realize that your response is as disgusting as A-Rod’s actions.  No action is not good enough.  You need to be better than that.

With pitchers and catchers reporting this week, Spring is on the way.  Hill and Wuertz have been sent away.  The team is nearly officially sold to the Ricketts family and naming rights, Peavy and the team’s official roster are still up in the air.  I have plenty to talk about regarding all of these things.  For today though, as a fan, baseball’s let me down again.  And for now, that’s all I really feel like saying.

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I Have To Pie

Dailies

So, this headline would be more amusing if Pie had been traded to Toronto.  Sadly, he was not. However, Pie will now be locking down left field for the Baltimore Orioles.  A great defensive outfielder, along with Jones and Markakis, the O’s will have a strong outfield to grab all of those line drives that batters will be hitting off their horrible pitching.

I admire and respect the history of the Orioles, loved Ripken and Murray as a baseball fan growing up and still have the goal of making it to Camden to catch a game asap.  I will be keeping tabs on Pie throughout the season in a new section called ‘Still Have to Pie’ for two reasons.  1) I’m a big fan and still see amazing potential.  I’ll be curious to see how his career comes about in Baltimore. 2) There aren’t enough bloggers in this community to cover it all.  Seriously, I clicked on the team tag on the MLBlog home page and while some bloggers with sites dedicated to other teams have posted articles about the O’s and are listed there, there are very few Orioles sites.  I’m not sure why that is.  I counted about eight of them and only a few of those had anything added to the pages since last Spring or Summer.  There’s one that I liked a lot that was something about ‘the tough life of an orioles fan’ or something like that (I’ll get the title asap and link to it here for you to check out…it’s really a great read).

Ok, I just got distracted by watching Fallon on Leno.  Looking forward to checking out his new late night talk show. Anyway…my point is, Pie is gone, I look forward to seeing how he does in Baltimore and will keep a section of Prose and Ivy dedicated to checking in on his career there and there should be more Orioles blogs in the MLBlogs community. Simple observation and opinion.  If anyone knows of one I may have missed, let me know here and I’ll check them out.

Note to self: stop blogging at midnight and if the best headline you can come up with is ‘I Have to Pie’, just go to bed.

Go Cubs Go!
 
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