Two Beautiful Views at Wrigley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mice Need To Continue To Play

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

Tough gig.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poor, poor Mets fans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Cubs Go! Beat those Yankees.

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

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

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

Regardless, Go Cubs Go! Beat those Brewers.

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

Bruised and Battered…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Wrigley Field: Chicago’s Colosseum?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Cubs Go!

Zambrano, You Can’t Just Say Anything

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

He was?

Yes.

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

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

And sound a little like this:

Suggested tunes to blast on his boom box:

“I’m Sorry” – Patsy Cline

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

“Bad” – Michael Jackson

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

“Oops, I Did It Again” – Britney Spears

“Apology Song” – The Decemberists

“Hard to Say I’m Sorry” – Chicago

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

Go Cubs Go!

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

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

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

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

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

Now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROAD TRIP!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Castro on Wrigley

Prosecard from Cubs Nation – Anna Weddell

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

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

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

Name:  Anna Weddell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Castro and Barney Need Our Votes!

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No team in the major leagues can claim to have a more exciting, talented dynamic duo up the middle than the Chicago Cubs. Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney have proven to be strong building blocks for the franchise going forward and a solid foundation for the team to lean on this season. They both deserve All-Star recognition and you can help send them to the starting line-up by voting for them over and over again.

I received the following email a few minutes ago…feel free to use the link below to vote for Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney (write-in) and your other favorite Cubs players you feel should represent the National League and the Chicago Cubs in this year’s All-Star game!

ALL-STAR UPDATE: CASTRO AND BARNEY NEED YOUR VOTES
The National League All-Star ballot update was released today and top Cubs performers Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney and Alfonso Soriano need your help to make the squad!

Starlin Castro ranks second among MLB shortstops in hits and average entering today’s games, while write-in candidate Darwin Barney leads all MLB rookies in hits, runs and batting average. Alfonso Soriano — currently ninth among NL outfielders in All-Star voting — is tied for second in the NL with 12 home runs.

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times on cubs.com — online or via your mobile device — using the 2011 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint until June 30 at 10:59 p.m. CT.

VOTE NOW >>
http://link.mlblists.com/r/XN5PM2/ORXVTJ/P6GZ4/RGOQQ6/1617OI/JS/t?a=4809036&b=205009430

AND… while you’re at it, vote for my son Rhys (shameless plug) in a contest! You can help put him on the cover of an upcoming issue of Parents Magazine. Now wouldn’t that just make your day? Ok, more accurately…now wouldn’t that just make Rhys’ family’s day?

Vote by clicking here and submit your vote in like 2 seconds! http://t.co/XYsBHG9

Do it. Vote for Castro (and Barney and Rhys) and all your wildest dreams will come true.

Go Cubs Go!

Preaching Patience to Patients, Simply Bad Timing

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Cubs hitting coach, Rudy Jaramillo, believes that preaching patience to his hitters is what this team needs to succeed. Now, certainly a walk is better than a strike out. Heck, it’s better than just about any kind of out that doesn’t involve a sacrifice for a run. I don’t believe our problem has been getting on base any more than the rest of the league. Our problem has been getting guys around that are already on base. Timely hitting with men in scoring position, that is our problem.

I understand young players like Castro and Barney get on a roll partially because of their talent and partially because opposing pitchers haven’t seen them before and haven’t figured out their weaknesses. I understand preaching patience to the young guns and pushing the philosophy down to A ball to keep the organization’s company line on point for when the young players hit the majors. Thing is…while it may help get one of the youngsters on base once more a game, the problem may just be that Jaramillo is preaching to a bunch of injured, often on the DL players.

He is preaching patience to a bunch of patients.

What good is preaching patience to a bunch of players that can’t stay healthy? What good is it to get guys on base and then not be able to knock in the runs? Who wants to lead the league in men left on base? I’m all for a high OBP. The Cubs are third in the National League in the category. Of course it’s difficult to clear the bases when you’re not getting the hits when the bases have a no-vacancy sign over them. It’s not like we’re not hitting for average. The Cubs are in second place in the NL in AVG, only a handful of points behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

Currently, we are 7.5 games behind said Cardinals. We are getting on base and we are hitting for average. We’re not even striking out as much as you may think. Currently we are in 15th out of 16 teams in the National League in strike outs, only team striking out less than us: the Cardinals (of course).

We aren’t quick to swing at poor pitches overall. We aren’t just taking a quick lap from the dugout to the batter’s box and back again very often. We aren’t having a hard time getting on base.

Patience isn’t our problem. Timing is.

I don’t know if even Jaramillo can teach timing. Patience? Sure. Wait for it. Wait for it. Wait for it. That’s easy. Heck, when you’re batting, patience and ‘wait for it’ calls for the hitter to simply stand there and not get hit by the pitch. As long as it’s not thrown directly at me, even I could do that. Patience is easy. Timing? Timing is hard.

I’d like to hear Jaramillo start talking about timing and figuring out a magical solution to the lack there of.

While the players are injured and taking a round-robin approach to the DL, patience is arguably wearing thin. Patience at the plate isn’t the problem. Patience in the bleachers and in the standings is where the patience is becoming an issue. At the plate, Jaramillo’s forte, timing is the problem.

Time to change the company model to reflect timing as the point of focus in the batter’s box and get away from patience. With all the patients we’ve had lately and all the youngsters getting called up to replace them, now would be the perfect time.

Go Cubs Go!

Prosecard From Cubs Nation – Ryan Aaron

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With injuries piling up this season to multiple Cubs starters, it’s important for us Cubs fans to stick together more than ever. It’s only May 31st so there is still a lot of baseball left to play and anything can happen but we need to get healthy fast, get our guys back on the field and turn it around quickly. It takes time to make up games, especially in a division as tight as the Central. Hopefully Garza comes back on Sunday and Wells improves in his second outing since coming off the DL. Once we start to stockpile our pitchers again, I feel like we have the offense to generate the necessary support. Just a matter of getting healthy and chasing the Cardinals, Brewers, Reds and Pirates as hard as we can. It would be nice if the Astros stay in the basement of the division. We dont’ need ANOTHER team to chase at this point in the season.

I know many Cubs fans feel the frustration after a tough loss and the elation after a great win that I feel so I always find it interesting to get to know other fans, by more than their Twitter handle.

If you are interested in being interviewed for a Prosecard of your own, email me at maloney_ryan@yahoo.com and I’ll send you some questions. You submit your answers and a photo and BOOM…we have ourselves a Prosecard. Here is today’s Prosecard from Cubs Nation from Ryan Aaron. Ryan loves his Cubs and has reason for MLB to eliminate the White Sox altogether. Check it out!

Name: Ryan Aaron

Why are the Cubs your favorite baseball team? Living in Oklahoma City we do not get a lot of the teams. As a child I could always count on watching the Cubs play. Watching Sandberg and Grace on the field and Harry and Steve Stone in the booth was the best part of my baseball child hood. 

Who is your all-time favorite Cub? Ryne Sandberg

Who is your favorite Cub on the current roster? I would have to go with Starlin Castro

Best thing about having a family own the team as opposed to a giant corporation and also the worst thing: The best thing about it being owned by a family is because in most cases it will be ran like it is a family and not just everyone is a number there to make a profit. The worst thing about it is because with it being owned by a family is that the budget may not be as large and may not be able to pay the players we develop when it is time or go out and get the one or two players needed to finish the piece of puzzle during free agency.

Your favorite thing about Wrigley Field: The ivy and the old scoreboard

Player you enjoy watching the most and why: Starlin Castro because he always plays at 110 percent. He plays with a level of energy that you don’t see everyday. Whether it is in the field or at the plate he plays all out all the time.

The Cubs are still chasing their next World Series title after nearly 103 years. What is it that they are missing? Why hasn’t happened in that time frame already? This is a tough one. I don’t think the answer is talent. We have had plenty of teams talented over the years. I guess it comes down to luck. I do not think the team is cursed but we have had a lot of bad breaks over the years. If just one of those goes the other way who knows maybe we hav e1 or 2 or 3 championships in that time frame.

Who is your favorite Cubs broadcaster (radio or TV)? Len Kasper

You are asked to write a brief column in between game 6 and game 7 of the World Series. Series is tied 3-3. Cubs win game 7 and the day we’ve all waited for will finally be here. What does the beginning of your column look like? Today is the day. Will it be the day we have all been waiting on or will it be another day of heartbreak?

How will you celebrate when the Cubs finally win another World Series title? I honestly do not know. I am sure there will be a lot of happy tears and adult beverages though.

You are offered a job to design a new logo for the Cubs. What would the logo look like? I would mix in a little bit of the current with the C and bring back the original logo with the bear holding the bat.

MLB has to cut one team for financial reasons. They have narrowed it down to the Brewers, Cardinals or White Sox. Which team would you recommend they lose and why? The White Sox would be the team I would contract. Why because the Cardinals are one of the historic teams in baseball and the rivalry with the Cubs is like none other, it is known world wide. The Brewers are a team that that when we go to there park it is like another home game Wrigley North. The White Sox are like the little kid down the street to me the one that no one wants to play with. They do nothing to help us and nothing to hurt us. They are just there.

How would you describe what it is like to be a Cubs fan? It is a roller coster no one has ever rode before, we have our ups and downs every year, but they are different than any other team.

The Cubs have won the World Series. You are writing the Tribune’s headline. Give me 3 samples of how you would have it read. HOW SWEET IT IS!!!!, CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! GO CUBS GO!

Thanks Ryan! Hope our Cubs get healthy and headed in the right direction in the standings ASAP!

Go Cubs Go!

In-Game Season Anxiety Index – How Do You Feel?

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It is currently in the bottom of the third inning in today’s game against the Pirates. Last game of the three game series. Fukudome just hit a leadoff double. I want to know how you feel about the season so far. The Good? The Bad? The Ugly? Let me hear your thoughts as today’s game unfolds. Stop yelling at the TV or telling your friends how much you love such-and-such about the Cubs. Let me hear what you’re thinking about the season so far right here, right now. Looking forward to hearing what everyone is thinking up to this point. Go Cubs Go!

That’s Rare.

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A win against the Pirates? Lately, that’s very rare. Did it happen today? Nope. Not today. Aside from a blast by Soriano in the ninth inning to cut the deficit in half, the Cubs weren’t able to come up with much of anything today against the ‘Buccos’. I don’t care for that nickname when it comes to the Pirates. And I don’t care for the fact that they have become a giant thorn in the Cubs side.

Doug Davis once again proved that he is not the answer in replacing Wells or Cashner. Add him to the list of guys who have auditioned for the spot and as Randy Jackson would say, “I don’t know, Dog. For me, it was just a little too pitchy”. Ha. Word play. Anyway, you understand what I’m getting at. Any Cubs fan familiar with the pitching problems we’ve faced since the season started understand what I’m saying. What was painful though was seeing Coleman warming up after Davis did nothing but give up a couple runs. COLEMAN? Isn’t enough that we have to see this kid pitch every five days while filling a rotation spot? Now we have to see him in spot relief as well? I mean, I understand he threw what….five pitches in his last outing before handing the ball to ICEBerg…but still. Every time I see the names DAVIS, COLEMAN, RUSSELL on the back of jerseys it makes we even more anxious for the return of our true four and five.

Thank goodness Zambrano’s doctor visit came up negative and any stiffness he was feeling in his neck turned out to be no big deal. We couldn’t take that right now. Dempster and Zambrano need to be patient and wait a little longer for their turn if they plan on packing their bags and booking a trip to the DL this season. Let’s wait for Garza, Wells and Cashner to send their Prosecards and tell us how great their stint was before we get Z and Demp on Travelocity looking up flights and hotels in sunny, warm, tragic DL-land.

Need to clean up the errors in the field and by clean up, I mean stop them. No more. We are too far back now to allow any unearned runs. Let’s make up some ground with quality baseball and then perhaps think about booting ground balls around the infield. At least give us time to get the rights to the Benny Hill theme song and we can make a real show of it one day in late August when we’re battling for first place and we just laugh it off as a fluke as we continue to blow away the teams we face. (Wouldn’t that be nice?) If we are going to help ourselves and pick each other up, a good place to start would be the ground balls. We pick those up and we could put an end to the unearned and earn our pitchers some W’s.

I still hold on to the goal of a 7-2 home stand. Of course, that would require winning the next five. However, we took the Mets series 2-1, so if we do that to Pittsburgh then we get the Astros who are sitting in the basement of the Central. And what team makes the most sense as far as sweeping is concerned? The one in the basement. Ha. Word play.

Wins against the Pirates have been a rarity recently and that needs to stop. Period. I want back in to the days where I could say ‘We’ll Always Have Pittsburgh’ and I’d like to revisit it as such tomorrow. In the meantime, here is something else that is rare. I came across it on-line just searching ‘rare Chicago Cubs film’. Thought it was pretty cool and wanted to share (like the way Pittsburgh hopefully shares the W’s. One for them…one…two for us. Sounds fair. Enjoy the footage). Go Cubs Go!

 http://ctnow.vid.trb.com/player/PaperVideoTest.swf

Dear Pittsburgh, I Think We Need A Little Space.

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Nearing the mid-way point of this nine game home stand, next up: the Pittsburgh Pirates. Division games often make the difference at the end of the season. Now is the time to pull away from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Here are your 2011 standings in the NL Central as of today, May 27:

Sitting side by side like Siamese twins sharing the fourth spot in the NL Central, the Cubs and Pirates are both clawing away as best they can to see what the Cards and Reds are up to atop the standings. Hoping the hole they are standing in isn’t made of quicksand, they’ve got their shovels out trying to dig their way out of the hole they dug themselves. Like watching two people doing their best to recover from a slip of the tongue, Cubs fans will be rooting for the Cubs to successfully do so and hope the Pirates end up packing up their things and asking for room in the basement next to the Astros in the basement of the division.

As expected, the Central is turning into a four team race. After this series, one of the two teams will have separated themselves from the other and hopefully it’s the Cubs joining the Brewers, Reds and Cards and not the Pirates. It is so hard to make up ground in this division as we’ve seen recently. Feels like in the past couple weeks, while the Cards have picked up a couple games on us, every time the Cubs win, the Cards win and when we lose, at times they still win. It gets frustrating to win a day game and hope you pick up a game that night, only to watch St. Louis maintain their lead. It’s a tough division, I know, but Pittsburgh, you’re getting a little too clingy. Enough is enough. We need a little space.

The Cards, Reds and Brewers all get to play the Pirates and Astros as many times as we do. Chances are they are going to take care of business. This week is our turn, our shot at winning the games we need to win to contend. Four games over the Astros, we’ve done a good job stiff-arming Houston in the standings.

It’s time to do the same to you, Pittsburgh.

Not too long ago, Pittsburgh might as well have been a difficulty rating of just above an off day or batting practice. A young team fighting desparately to become relevant again after 20+ years of coming up short, they are slowly getting better. Recently, the Pirates are making it a series against the Cubs and at the end of the year, like last year, the Pirates even took the season series between the two of them. Chasing the Cards is one thing. First thing’s first though…we need to pull away from Pittsburgh. We’re trying to achieve something here and you are cramping our style, Pirates.

Doug Davis on the mound tonight. Remember Doug, these are the Pirates. Not the Red Sox. Get the W. Go Cubs Go!

Think My Family’s Excited About Taking the Series From the Mets?

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[mlb-jibjab url=http://mlb.jibjab.com/view/6GCjWyXDGFaM4C2g]

A picture is worth a thousand words…or at least one Jib Jab video. Feel free to play the video above before reading the rest of the post.

What a great game today. Another laugher as the Cubs take two out of three against the Mets to kick off their nine game home stand. If we were allowed to play all nine last night, then perhaps we would have come back and found a way to sweep them. Unfortunately, the rain had other plans and the Mets escape the broom. I believe if we don’t get out of Wrigley with a 7-2 record this week against the Mets, Astros and Pirates, then it’s a giant missed opportunity to make up some ground. If we take the next two series 2-1 that puts us at 6-3 for the week so we’re now going to have to sweep either the ‘Stros or the Pirates. Would love to see that happen.

Zambrano looked great today as he was dominant on the mound and went 3-for-3 at the plate. Is he fun to watch hit, or what? Pena finally defeated the wind and went yard to put the Cubs ahead 2-1 early on and the rest of the team followed suit. Lots of timely hitting and hustle from the youngsters again and it’s fun to see guys like Campana, Castro and Barney make a difference in the line up. Granted, Campana kind of looks like that punk kid that end up in the Bad News Bears sequels after Amanda was no longer pitching, but hey who am I to hold that against him. The kid is a welcome sight. I just can’t believe yet another hurdle has been presented in Colvin’s career with the Cubs. With Campana contributing it may take another outfielder to go down with an injury for Colvin to see the big league stage again any time soon.

The Mets continued their struggling ways at Wrigley as expected. If it wasn’t for an outing by Berg painting the picture of a call that could have been made by fictitious Indians’ broadcaster, Harry Doyle, perhaps the brooms are out of the closet. I’m hoping this wasn’t our best chance at it among the three opponents we’ll see but something tells me it was. Still shooting for that 7-2 at the end of the home stand and hopefully the Cardinals will do their part and lose along the way.

Great series and I’ll be talking about it tonight as a guest on a Mets podcast called Mets Public Record. Looking forward to it.

UPDATED 11:55pm May 26: Here’s the webisode. I come on at the 14:50 mark. Fun chat with the hosts about the Mets/Cubs series. Check it out:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/btrplayer.swf

Way to go Cubs. Keep it up. Go Cubs Go!  JIB JAB!

The Byrdinator – “I’ll Be Back”

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Here is a link to Marlon Byrd’s blog in case you aren’t familiar with it, another in the popular MLBlogs community. Marlon’s  latest post is a great sign that he’s doing well and will be back in the Cubs’ line-up as soon as possible.  Check it out: The Byrd’s Nest

Get well soon, Marlon. Go Cubs Go!

Home Run Derby Interlude – Banks v. Hodges

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The Cubs were the victim of mother nature tonight as their game against the Mets was cut short. Half way through the top of the seventh inning, the umps finally called for a rain delay and ultimately the ballgame on a soggy night at Wrigley. Quade was pretty upset that his team didn’t at least get to finish the seventh inning down by three runs so he’d have a shot to tie the game. According to Quade, it wasn’t raining any harder when they called for the tarp than it was a couple innings before. Good to see the fire, Quade. Keep it up.

So, Thursday is now the rubber match between the two clubs and I like our chances with Zambrano on the mound. The Mets got lucky tonight as Berg had a meltdown of epic proportions. His fastballs looked like Steve from Blue’s Clues, wondering hopelessly unable to find it’s target no matter how much the people watching yelled at him to locate the strike zone. It was an ugly scene, hopefully one he can shake off while he’s still with the club. Coleman also had a miserable outing. Unfortunately that’s what we get with three of our five starters out with injuries. You have to hope the replacements can step up and if they can’t, you have to hope you at least get your nine innings to make up for their poor performance. Neither happened tonight and now the three game series is tied at one game a piece.

To make up for the lost baseball this evening, here is a video of an old home run derby between two retired numbers between the Cubs and Mets organizations respectively. Ernie Banks and Gil Hodges. You have to love having this kind of access to old-school baseball moments in history. Enjoy…and Go Cubs Go!

William Shea Must Be Turning In His Grave

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We got the Mets at exactly the right time. They are low on talent. Low on pitching. Low on ‘superstars’.  And perhaps the most important one of all…low on morale.

Yesterday’s game was a laugher. It was the perfect way to kick off the nine game home stand, a crucial one for the Cubs. That second inning was a beast. The Cubs got on base and got on base and got on base unlike no other game I remember. We were relentless and it was somewhat refreshing. RISP you say? No problem. WHAM…a single. BOOM…a two RBI double. The hits piled up and the runs were doing their best to keep up.

The Mets had no shot of keeping up with the Cubs yesterday. It was as if the offense timed itself with the ivy. Both were seemingly in full bloom and looked spectacular. Dempster got his legs under himself after the first inning and then cozied up in the warm nook of a five run lead after two, never to look back. The need of this team that stood out the most immediately resulted in stand out players. With guys down like Soto, Byrd and Baker, we need these young kids to step up and make a difference. Maybe Pena reminded them of what it was like to have a dominant young force in Tampa Bay a few years back. These kids put on a show and it was fun to watch. Heck, even Soriano, Ramirez and Hill joined in on the fun. Aside from Quade giving Castro an earful after a baserunning error, the team was nearly perfect yesterday.

The Mets? Not so much.

In many ways, these two teams are very much alike. Many injuries and poor positioning in the standings. Yet in many ways, they are very different. The key one being morale. After the weekend series against the Red Sox, losing two of three plus their lone All-Star of last year and a strong number 3 in the rotation, you would imagine the team’s morale being extremely low. However, that kind of low morale isn’t the same type of low morale the Mets are experiencing.

Injury and tough loss morale is much different compared to ‘jerk boss’ morale. The Mets are suffering from Jerk Boss morale. Have you ever had a jerk boss? I have. Not only does having an abusive boss make doing your job more difficult, it makes it very hard for you to even want to. Nothing says stick it to the old guy with the ‘nothing-but-sh*tty-things-to-say’ attitude like an 11-1 loss. You think we stink? Alright fine, we stink. Now are you happy? William Shea must be turning in his grave watching this organization implode.

Shea fought to bring a National League ballclub to New York after the Dodgers left in ’57. He threatend MLB with an additional professional baseball league called the Continental League. Afraid of competition, MLB gave in and gave NY one of two new teams in the expansion (the Astros being the other who were then the Colt .45s). He poured his heart and soul into the effort and the team named their second home after him. First home: Polo Grounds. Second home: Shea Stadium. Nowadays, the Shea Bridge that leads to concession stands in the outfield is named after him at Citi Field. I’m starting to think he must be thinking thanks but no thanks after watching what Wilpon has done to his beloved team.

The Mets are in trouble in more ways than one and luckily, we have them right where we want them. Losing 11-1 is no way to defeat a low morale problem and here they are, in our home at a disadvantage being on the road. We need to keep pounding them and be sure to sweep.

The Astros and Pirates are must win series as well and I expect us to. However, this Mets series is a different kind of opportunity. These guys are as low as it gets. It’s time to step on the gas as Keith likes to say and keep the runs piling up. (Maybe not by putting one of our only two starting pitchers out there to pinch hit – Quade, I understand guys like to have fun and it probably will help morale overall but- please be careful with Zambrano and Dempster. They are the only two quality, healthy starters we have left).

Another night game tonight against the Mets. Gee v. Coleman. Coleman took advantage of a friendly atmosphere in Florida to start turning his season around. Tonight, the Mets will provide another great opportunity. Go Cubs Go!

Garza To The DL With a Bone Contusion? Better To Laugh Than Cry

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It’s official. The Cubs sent Matt Garza to the DL today to hang out with the rest of the Cubs potential All-Stars: Byrd and Soto, Pitchers: Wells, Cashner and 2011’s Mark DeRosa: Jeff Baker. Wow, this is a lot to be up against when trying to make up ground in the Central. It seems like every day that passes, you hear about a Cubs injury and then as soon as you accept it and move on, convincing yourself all will be well with the Cub world and we’re back on track regardless, the DL Land Shark comes a’knockin’ at the door again! Well, I say ENOUGH with the ‘candygrams’.

I believe in Quade and what he can pull out of a hat with this team, but come on. The man needs his pieces! The Garza listing is a real blow to the already patchwork quilt of a line-up/rotation Quade is continually forced to put together. I know Cubs fans must be concerned. Am I right? Do all of these injuries to your favorite ballplayers have you down in the Demps, er dumps?

Better to laugh about it than cry!

Here are some videos I thought might lift Cubs fans spirits while browsing the DL. All of them involve something with great potential unexpectedly hurt by non-sense or absolute catastrophy. Sound familiar?

In a season constantly interrupted by chaos and roughly 50% of the games going essentially win, lose, win lose…I think these are perfect for a laugh and to symbolize the up and down nature of the team’s health during the 2011 season. Especially the second video. Every time they react to a Michael Bolton interruption it looks and sounds a lot like I do when I hear about another injury to a Cubs player. You’re welcome. Mets/Cubs tonight. Can’t wait.


Let’s hope the injuries stop here. We can’t continue this trend. We’re already short on quality to bring up to the Bigs to replace the key players we were counting on. I felt like we could compete with the group even with Hill at catcher and hoped that Russell or Coleman would catch on. Now that Byrd and Garza are in trouble, please…attention baseball injury gods…ENOUGH ALREADY. Thank you.

Go Cubs Go!

Theme Song of the Upcoming Home Stand

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Tonight kicks off a nine game home stand for the Cubs and we sure could use some good news at the end of it.

Against three of the lowest representations of major league talent the league has to offer, the Mets, Astros and Pirates come into Wrigley this week for three games a piece. Are they catching the Cubs at a good time? Absolutely. The injury list up to this point of the season tallies up key losses: Wells, Cashner, Soto, Garza, Byrd and Baker. All of them were supposed to contribute an extreme amount to the Cubs drive to a winning season. And now? None of them more than likely, will be available for any of the three series.

Their replacements? Russell, Davis, Coleman, Castillo, Hill, DeWitt, Johnson and for however brief a period of time, Montanez.

Talk about a needing your bench and back up guys to step up and play hero for a stretch of time. The Cubs came into 2011 with a starting rotation of three solid starters and then two guys we were hoping we’d have at least .500 records from come the end of the season. Dempster was about to get his turn in the ‘let me be the ace’ rotation that he’s taken a back seat previous years to guys like Lilly and Zambrano. Zambrano came off as a bigger head case than Mr. Potato Head last season and no one was really sure what to expect in 2011. Sure his second half of 2010 was impressive, but it had to be in order to help make you forget about the first half. Garza came in like the hot girlfriend that moves into your place that you think it’s good idea to have her around and you think there’s great potential. Thing is, she’ll only move in if you get rid of a bunch of your stuff. Some of those things are harder to let go of than others but you give it a shot because hey…this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. And then there was Wells and Cashner. Wells treated us to a ‘See’ season in 2009 and then the frightening ‘Saw’ season in 2010. Unsure of where 2011 was headed after Spring Training, he earned the number four spot in the rotation after doing enough in the pre-season. Same with Cashner who essentially stepped up long enough to yell ‘shotgun’ to get the five spot considering the other possibilities had stat lines in Spring that yelled ‘not it’.

It wasn’t but two weeks into the season and Wells and Cashner were gone leaving only what turned out to be a shaky Demp and high in the ERA, low in the crazy Zambrano (which yes, we’ll take if it leads to wins yet may not be as entertaining). Garza has put up an impressive amount of strike outs however they haven’t translated into too many wins on the days he pitches. And NOW, Garza is out with tightness in his throwing arm, his elbow concern pulling him from the series finale at Fenway. I feel like if we had Garza on Sunday, we would have taken the series against the Sox and team would feel great heading back to Wrigley for this homestand.

However, we didn’t have him. We didn’t win the series and on top of it all…while our pitching became furhter comprimized, our line-up took some shots as well. One of them literally, as Byrd took a fastball to his left eye socket and is out indefinitely. The other being Baker who pulled up lame turning a shot to the wall in Boston into a double (capped off with an injury induced, ugliest slide I think I’ve ever seen).

The players that are on the DL were key pieces in Quade’s plan for success. He now must make due with a make shift line up of bench players and spot starters. The team needs help and they can only look to their bench and their bullpen. No one else is going to get it done. They have to step up and help each other out until the expected superstars of the team get back.

The good thing for this week is, the opponents are in a similar position. The Mets have what they were pitching as superstars in their pre-season ticket sales push, only in recent days their owner has come out and trashed the faces of the franchise. Wilpon said that Reyes is essentially an injury waiting to happen that will never get star money, that Wright has a nice smile and an ok back of a baseball card but is no ‘superstar’ and while they have to pay Beltran 100% of the money due to him, he’s only offering 60-75% of his former self day in and day out because he’s simply not the talent he once was. They have suffered injuries in the rotation and made up for it by signing arms from the land of misfit pitchers hoping for the best. This team is in no better shape than the Cubs, especially with key players like Wright, Santana, Pagan and Ike Davis on the shelf with injuries. They too are looking for help from within.

The Astros are struggling and holding down the fort they’re having fun building in the basement of the NL Central and surprisingly, the Pirates of all teams will probably end up being the toughest team we face on the homestand. I still can’t believe we are behind them in the standings. At the end of the day though, they are still the Pirates and they can always use all the help they can get.

I believe we are still at a slight advantage given the talent we have as backups and the fact that we’re at home for these games. I expect a record of 7-2. Anything less than that will be a missed opportunity to make up some ground this week in the Central (as long as the Cards cooperate of course). To play us out, I submit this tune as the soundtrack of the upcoming nine game homestand. Enjoy…and Go Cubs Go!

Prosecard from Cubs Nation – Christopher Petersen

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Today’s Prosecard from Cubs Nation is from Christopher Petersen! We’re all in this thing together…might as well get to know one another! If you’d like to be interviewed and featured here in a Prosecard, email me at proseandivy@cubsmvp.com and I will send you questions to answer. That and a photo and you are good to go!

Big week coming up with a nine game homestand against the Mets, Astros and Pirates. Would love to see us go 9-0. It’d be tough, but against these three troubled franchises, anything is possible. I’m sure Christopher would agree.

Here is his Prosecard from Cubs Nation…check it out!

Name: Christopher Petersen

Prose and Ivy: Why are the Chicago Cubs your favorite baseball team?
Christopher Petersen: My best friend in grade school was a huge baseball fan in general and a Cubs fan specifically. So, although I liked watching the games already, he sort of solidified me as a Cubs fan. When I was seven years old in 1984, I wasn’t fully aware of what I was in for. But I got into watching the games, and I became fascinated with listening to Harry call a game. Even as a kid, I knew he wasn’t doing the greatest job, but it always sounded like he was having fun, so it was fun. Being a Cubs fan also sort of fits my personality a bit, because I hope for the best but prepare for the worst with pretty much everything.

P&I: Who is your all-time favorite Cub?
CP: I grew up as a huge fan of Sandberg/Grace/Dawson, but as I learned more about the team I came to truly appreciate Fergie Jenkins. His accomplishments, especially in terms of his durability and complete games, seem almost mythical today when you compare them to modern pitchers who can’t stay healthy for an entire season, even with pitch count restrictions and modern conditioning. But Dawson would have to be my all-time favorite simply because of the legend of the blank check. To see a guy express as much appreciation for the team as a player as you do as a fan, it’s something rare. He knew how fortunate he was to play baseball for a living, and he let the fans know how much he appreciated their support.

P&I: Who is your favorite Cub on the current roster?
CP: I’ve always been a staunch supporter of Carlos Zambrano, even when I know I probably shouldn’t be. He’s a big fat crazy idiot, and I see some of myself in that because I myself am a big fat crazy idiot.

P&I: The Cubs are wearing patches with the number 10 on them this season in honor of former Cub player/broadcaster, Ron Santo. What is your favorite memory of Santo?
CP: I was born too late to ever see Ronnie play, but on the radio he was a truly unique figure. There’s no doubt that he wasn’t the most polished broadcaster, but he was always entertaining. My favorite memory was of a game in 2008 against the Dodgers. The Cubs had built up a mostly comfortable lead before a series of soft hits brought L.A. back into the game. Ron had been growing more and more agitated with each Dodger run, and when the last bloop single hit the outfield grass, he just started shouting “WHY? WHY? WHY?” It’s become a go-to expression of anguish for my wife and I since then. Ron had a way of making every game the most important game of the year, which was emotionally exhausting at times as a fan, but you knew he was always sincere. And that’s more than you can say for a lot of broadcasters.

P&I: Would you rather be in attendance to see a regular season perfect game thrown at Wrigley or a playoff walk-off home run?
CP: Now, this question feels like a trick, because a regular season perfect game at Wrigley could technically be thrown by an opposing pitcher. I have a feeling that if I said “perfect game,” I would get to my seat and have to watch the Cubs get blown away by Wandy Rodriguez or something equally humiliating. The playoff game is more important anyway, so I’m going with the walkoff homer.

P&I: The Cubs marketing department comes to you, asking for ideas for a new slogan for the 2011 Cubs. List three or four ideas you would suggest.
CP: Yikes. Okay. I guess I would try to play up the youth factor of the team, with Castro/Colvin/Cashner/Barney/Wells etc., so let’s see…

“The future begins today.”

“Enjoy your Old Style, because legally these guys can’t.”

“Your 2011 Chicago Cubs: None of them were born before ‘Star Wars’ came out.”

P&I: What is your favorite Cubs game of all-time? Why?
CP:That’s a difficult one to answer – to me every win feels just as good as the next and every loss feels just as bad. I guess the one that sticks out most in my mind was one from 1992, the game against the Cards where Jim Bullinger homered in his very first major-league at-bat. It sticks out to me because it was such a bizarre, random occurrence – the kind of thing that only happens in baseball.

P&I: If you could change one thing about Wrigley what would it be? If you fought to keep one thing the same, what would it be?
CP: I’d really like to see the park modernized to a certain extent. I know that’s practically heresy to a lot of people, but when you understand just how outdated the players’ facilities are, you have to feel like they’re at something of a disadvantage. I want the Cubs to get clubhouses and training facilities as good or better than the best in the majors – because it can’t be easy to break a century-long drought when your home is practically as old. Obviously, I’d like Wrigley to maintain as much of its charm as possible, but the priority should be making the ballclub into a champion. As for what I want to keep the same, I want the Cubs to stay at Clark and Addison. Being in the middle of a neighborhood is what makes the ballpark unique in the majors, and I can’t imagine going to a Cubs game in the middle of a gigantic parking lot.

P&I: You’re assembling the greatest Cubs rotation in history. Who are the five pitchers you would select and why?
CP: Working backwards through time:

  1. Carlos Zambrano – He’s had a rough couple of years since 2008, but he averages about 8 strikeouts per 9 innings when he’s on his game.
  2. Greg Maddux – Not only is he one of the best pitchers of the last 30 years, but he supposedly has an uncanny ability to see how a game will progress – a valuable skill to have on the bench.
  3. Fergie Jenkins – Should be obvious; one of the most durable, most reliable pitchers ever.
  4. Grover Cleveland Alexander – He has a lifetime ERA of 2.56, and posted an ERA under 2.00 six seasons in a row.
  5. Mordecai Brown – A career WHIP just a hair above 1 at 1.066, and one of the most baffling deliveries in Cubs history thanks to his “unique” hand.

P&I: Sammy Sosa hasn’t worn a Cubs uniform in years. As a fan, what are your feelings regarding Sammy Sosa as of today? Are they different than they were when he was a Cub?
CP: I look at Sammy the way you would look at a crazy ex-girlfriend. You had a ton of fun while you were together, even though you knew in the back of your mind that something wasn’t right. Now that it’s over, you look back and realize you weren’t in the right frame of mind at the time.

P&I: Which season did you feel was actually going to be ‘the year’? One more than any other and why?
CP: I try not to get too excited at the start of any season, regardless of how good the team looks on paper. This helped me out immensely in 2009 as that whole thing crashed and burned. I’d have to say 2003 just felt differently, up until those last two terrible days. There were reasons to feel confident, even after Game 6 happened. You still had Kerry Wood pitching Game 7. There was no reason to panic, even though every fiber of your being as a Cubs fan was wracked with anxiety. But then, it all fell apart anyway. Oh well. O-blah-dee, o-blah-dah, and all that nonsense.

P&I: The Cubs have won the World Series. You are writing the headline for the next day. How would you have it read? Three or four examples would be great.
CP: “IT HAPPENED”

“HELL’S WEATHER: FROSTY”
“YOU’RE NOT DREAMING”

“W”

P&I: How do you plan on celebrating a Cubs World Series victory if we are lucky enough to have it happen in our life time.  What would you do?

CP: If I do see the Cubs win the World Series, it will certainly be one of the happiest moments of my life, but other than an immense feeling of relief it won’t really change anything. I’d celebrate by having a few drinks with my friends, taking my wife out to dinner, then probably hanging my “W” flag outside my house for the rest of the year. Then, once the next season starts, I’d roll it up and put it away until the next time they win the World Series.

Thanks Christopher…Go Cubs Go!

Byrd’s Injury Brings Perspective to Fenway Finale

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The image of the baseball hitting Marlon Byrd in the face is one I am having a hard time shaking off. The second image, the one of him thrashing around home plate on the ground from the pain is even more disturbing.

Marlon Byrd is the type of player that can carry a team when he’s on a hot streak. When his bat hasn’t quite hit it’s stride, he’s still a Cub that is fun to watch because you can tell he takes pride in being here and playing for Cubs fans. To see interact with the fans in the bleachers at Wrigley is one of the hidden gems of the Wrigley Field experience. The friendly jabs back and forth. The willing conversations with kids and adults alike. The dancing, the pointing, the smiling. Marlon Byrd is possibly the most likable player on the team which is what makes this injury all the harder to take.

I wouldn’t wish getting hit in the face with a fastball on any baseball player. Not a player I dislike and of course certainly not one I root for on a regular basis. The league is doing more to test out new helmets to help with preventing concussions that occur as a result of beanballs. Thing is, when you are unable to get out of the way and one of those pitches catches you in the face…not a whole lot you can do about it except go down hard and hope for the best.

Think about the highlights you’ve seen on Sportscenter…all the times you’ve seen them play that disturbingly loud PLUNK sound of a baseball hitting a batting helmet. You’ve seen the concern of players in the field and teammates in the dugout when they show those shots. Of course, they generally show the reaction once and the plunking about 30 times in a row. To see the concern on those players when a beanball happens off a batting helmet is one thing. You know it’s a big deal when players on the other team have looks on their faces like Youkalis did for the Sox. He looked absolutely horrified and rightfully so. Regardless of which uniform he is wearing, no player wants to see another player take a fastball to the face. And if they are concerned, players who have ‘seen it all’, then you know it is something to be concerned about.

As soon as it happened I thought of the scary episode baseball experienced earlier this year with Atlanta Braves minor leagues manager, Luis Salazar getting hit in the head with a foul ball and then slamming his head to the ground on his fall afterwards. He has lost the eye and his life will never be the same. Coaching like that can’t be easy…it would be impossible to play. My number one concern is Byrd’s health and vision. Number two would be his ability to play. When you start to talk about injuries to the head, you can’t mess around or take it lightly. The Cubs need to take this very seriously and take care of Byrd. He is an important part of the line up and fabric of this team however they must not rush him back…if coming back is an option at all.

Nothing would be sadder than to see a player in his prime, loving playing for the Cubs, have his career cut short because of this type of play. The head is just such an intense opportunity for brain and vision injuries, maybe the league needs to go even further to protect their players. Facemasks? I don’t know, not necessarily…but maybe.

My friend, Paulie Malignaggi, is a professional boxer. He fought the fight of his life at Madison Square Garden a few years back against a real brawler. It was a title match against the very talented and very strong Miguel Cotto. I produced a documentary of his training leading up to the fight and then we were there filming on fight night. Paulie performed to his best ability and made us all proud of him. While he did not win, he was impressive in defeat. I couldn’t believe he went the distance considering in the third round, he broke the orbital bone on the left side of his face (the bone below the eye/lower part of the eye socket). I couldn’t imagine the pain he must have been in and was concerned for his well-being, his career and his vision.

Luckily, Paulie healed and went on to continue his boxing career. Sometimes though, athletes can endure the same type of injury and not come out of it as lucky.

This Red Sox/Cubs series is something I’ve looked forward to because I predicted Cubs/Red Sox in the 2011 World Series. Game one was exciting until it turned into a giant blow-out loss. Game 2 was more fun as we ran off an 8-run 8th inning. Thing is, the game 2 success was greatly affected by the fact that one of our Cubs went down with a serious injury earlier in the game. Perhaps it’s because I have first hand experience with an injury like this, knowing someone who has suffered facial fractures/broken bones around the eye. I know how serious it can be and maybe that’s why I’m having a hard time shaking the Byrd injury off.

I can’t wait to hear an update and I very much so hope Byrd is okay. I realize he is a baseball player and not a boxer. It’s not like it was ten rounds of continuously getting hit in the face with a fastball. One shot, that was all. But to think about seeing the pitch hit him in the face and then him flailing in pain on the ground…a concussion would be one thing and I believe the team will handle his injury well and look out for Byrd’s health. As of right now, his vision is my real concern and I’m hoping for good news about his condition soon. Even more so than a Cubs win this evening.

Hoping for the best re: Byrd and that his teammates will one for him tonight. Would be a great start to what could be a long road back to the playing field for Marlon. Go Cubs Go.

Book Review: ‘Remembering Fenway Park’

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Before this weekend’s series at Fenway Park, the last time the Cubs appeared in a game that mattered there was 1918. It was the World Series and as the result of a shortened season due to the world being at war, the two teams at the top of their divisions were selected to play for the championship.

Those teams were of course, the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs.

1918 is a Series that ended up in the W column for the team from Beantown. That year would haunt them for 86 years until their next championship. Yankees fans would chant NINE-TEEN EIGHT-TEEN at the Red Sox year after year as they would meet their AL East division rivals in the playoffs in what felt like every single year (although realistically that was not the case). The Cubs on the other hand, are still waiting to capture their ‘next’ title and the last one occurred 10 years before the 1918 Series. In a decade that featured arguably the best Cubs teams of all-time, they would unfortunately come up short (possibly to their own accord, according to documents recently released) and the memories they would have of Fenway Park were not exactly fond ones.

93 years later, a Cubs team would finally step back into Fenway Park for games that counted. Not playoff games mind you (although I do predict that’s how 2011 will play out). A weekend series that has the entire MLB fan base watching primetime matchups between two of the most storied franchises in the game. It’s definitely a series I’ve kept my eye on since the schedule was released and I was // this close to heading to Boston this weekend to take a game or to in, in person. As it is, while Wrigley Field is the best place to watch a baseball game, arguably, Fenway Park is the second best (and some fans would even flip flop those two). The two oldest ballparks in the major leagues, it’s amazing how high they rank in the eyes of baseball fans. The casual fan would think that the newer parks featuring all kinds of replica throwback feel plus the technology and comfort of modern day would be the favorites of fans. However, as it turns out, while some of the newer amenities are nice, the replica throwback effort often comes across as trying too hard and nothing can match the true feeling you get when you walk into the real deal.

Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, while receiving slight updates and additional seats over the years since the 1918 match up, are still the truth when it comes to our favorite past time. They provide fans with a home to celebrate their team game in and game out and the opportunity to relish in the history of their beloved franchises as it surrounds them inside the ballpark every where you look. There is no need to reference a key part of the stadium or the field where something amazing or magnificent happened throughout the years. No need for pictures or museums. Whatever is there to celebrate the past is simply by choice, not be necessity. All of the areas of the ballparks where those special moments occurred are still there, right in front of you, getting groomed and prepped by the grounds crews each and every season.

The two parks are special in that way and nothing else in the league is, can or will ever be quite as magical as them.

The 1918 Series is something the two teams have in common. The fact that their ballparks are such true relics to the history of the game is certainly another.

I was sent a review copy of a book called ‘Remembering Fenway Park – An oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Boston Red Sox’. It’s a great book and I wish they did one for Wrigley Field.

My favorite thing about the book is the way it manages to cover the history of the park from both the inside and out. What I mean by that is, not the outer walls and inside of the park, but the way it reviews the history of the stadium as an observer in addition to the quote, emotions, memories and thoughts shared by former Red Sox players who played many, many games at Fenway. With a foreword by Johnny Pesky, immediately you are taken to a place that gives instant credibility to the author. The stories told by the players give you an inside look as to what it is to be a Boston Red Sox player and the images that accompany it are spectacular.

Williams, Fisk, Ramirez, Rice, Clemens…they are all here. The book takes you decade by decade, year by year breaking down what the atmosphere was like around Boston at the time. It paints a picture as to what the pulse of the nation felt like and how it affected the league as time went by. It’s hilarious to see the old park in it’s youth and the types of ads that are around the stadium (apparently shaving blades were a very hot commodity in the early 1900’s and the companies that made them were willing to shell out dough to get their razor known around Fenway…also a razor with two blades was a big deal back then…what are we up to, like seven blades by now?)

Some of my favorite images are those of the spectators. I wonder if we’ll ever get back to wearing suits and fedoras to the ballpark. They say what’s old will be back and become new again.

To see Fenway Park expand throughout the book is also a very interesting aspect. It is like a time capsule reference of the business plan blueprint the organization took throughout the years. How to make more money…where to put more seats…how to get more people to the ballpark. Baseball is a beautiful game with it’s measurements from mound to plate and from base to base. However, while the talent on the field is a spectacle to behold, the game is also a business. The owners of the team throughout the years clearly understood this and it’s fascinating to see them maintain the honor and reputation of the park as a landmark of the sport while still finding places to build here and change there to increase the seating capacity. If they had made mistakes or errors along the way, they’d still be selling out to large numbers, however, fans wouldn’t feel the same way they do about the ballpark.

Opening Day line ups of the teams throughout the years from 1912-2009 is also a great resource in watching the team develop like an amoeba. Young stars come up to the league early in the book and you watch their careers develop until they leave you as a respected, beloved veteran at the end of their careers. This happens constantly and it is also an interesting way to see how the Red Sox have handled the ballclub throughout the years. Who did they keep? Who did they trade? Who did they sign? It’s a record of nearly 100 years of business decisions that have made the Red Sox the team they are today and Fenway Park the stadium we all know and respect.

Wrigley Field deserves this type of treatment. I know that there are NUMEROUS books out there about the history of Wrigley Field and many of them are quite good. However, aside from no World Series title reference next to the year 1918 in the book and the dates listed as 1912-2010 (which I feel gives the impression that Fenway closed in 2010…I maybe would have listed it as ‘Since 1912′ or something to that effect), the author, Harvey Frommer, does it right. If he already has encapsulated the history of Wrigley Field, then I want someone to tell me where I can get it. If he hasn’t, then let this be my official ask that he do so.

Baseball fans will love this book even if they are not Red Sox fans. I would encourage you to find it, buy it and enjoy.

Rubber band match tonight. Cubs at Red Sox. One more game that matters in the books for 2011 at Fenway Park tonight on Sunday Night Baseball. Garza is out with tightness in his shoulder. Byrd still hospitalized from being hit in the face with an Acevedes pitch. While my thoughts are with Byrd and I hope for GREAT news as far as he’s concerned and I wish Garza could represent us in this third game against the Sox, it will be fun to see one more game against the Sox at Fenway……and I hope we get seven more this post-season. Only this time, I want the Cubs to walk away with the title and I want to be there. That’s how I’d like to remember Fenway Park.

Go Cubs Go!


With Marlins Swept, Time To Ship Up To Boston!

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For the first time since 1918, the Chicago Cubs will be visiting historic Fenway Park.

At that time, the two teams were facing each other in the World Series. A time before curses. A long time before blogs, MLB Network and 24 hour sports radio/television. What was at stake may have been greater back then, but there will definitely be more people watching this time around.

Back in 1918, players weren’t paid more than about $5,000/year and World Series championship bonus could run up to 20% of that total. With no guarantee of winning, there are rumors that players were willing to throw away a shot at a title and bonus money for the guaranteed payday that came along with throwing the Series. The Red Sox won the World Series and lately, people have questioned whether the Cubs handed it to them on a silver slugger plate.

I like to think that they didn’t. I like to think the corruption started in 1919 with the White Sox and the Black Sox scandal. The book/film, Eight Men Out fascinated me when I first came across them and the story of Shoeless Joe Jackson, made famous in the film ‘Field of Dreams’ was one I was infatuated with for a while (still am today). How could anyone throw away the opportunity to win the World Series? I suppose now that I have a family of my own, I can understand the pressure to provide. I also know what it is to feel unfairly treated by an employer who is making millions. Considering the way owners treated players back then, as much as I’d like to believe it wasn’t the case, it’s hard to say the Cubs didn’t possibly contribute to the Red Sox success that Series.

This upcoming weekend series at Fenway, it’s just that. A series. Not a Series.

Nonetheless, the fact that it’s been nearly 100 years since the Cubs played at Fenway against the Red Sox (the Sox have visited Wrigley in a regular season inter-league game since) is a big deal and all eyes will be on Fenway Fri-Sun night. I wanted to get tickets and drive up to the old ballpark but it wasn’t in the cards. Regardless, I can’t wait to see this showdown.

You think a stretch against the Reds, Cardinals and Giants is a true test of where the team stands? Try facing the Boston Red Sox. After a slow start they are starting to fire on all cylinders. The favorite selected by many to win it all in the pre-season, individually and as a team are now hitting their stride. Once buried in the depths of talent in the AL East, the Sox are scratching their way back to the top of the standings, an effort I’d like to see come from the Cubs after their own slow start this season.

Two games against the Marlins in Miami is a great appetizer and a wonderful opportunity to finally get some sun and warm up a bit. However, the Marlins are no Red Sox and their ballpark is no Fenway. As excited as we are as Cubs fans for this weekend, you’d have to imagine the Sox fans are looking forward to it just as much. To experience the historic match-up and possibly to cheer their team on to victory and spoil the visit once again for the Chicago Cubs 93 years later.

Interleague play has opened up the opportunity for these types of match-ups, these types of tests for the club during the regular season. Considering I picked the Cubs over the Red Sox this year, this is one three game set I am very much in particular interested in seeing play out. Hopefully, it does so in the Cubs favor.

What happened in 1918 has no bearing on what will happen this weekend. It was merely a blip on the radar throughout the century-plus long title drought by the Cubs. However, if in fact something dirty did go down 93 years ago in that Series now being questioned by fans across the baseball landscape…then this series would be a great opportunity to redirect the focus where it needs to be and where it deserves to be.

All eyes will be on Fenway Park this weekend. Fenway Park is no Wrigley Field. Let’s ship up to Boston and show those Red Sox that they in fact are no Chicago Cubs. Get ready Bah-ston. We’re looking to sweep. Go Cubs Go!

Prosecard from Cubs Nation – Christin Haws

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One of my favorite Prose features is the Cubs fan interview series I do called “Prosecards from Cubs Nation”. It’s always fun to hear more about why different fans root for the Cubs and how they would react in hypothetical situations regarding their favorite baseball team. Whether it’s someone I meet at a game, or someone I meet on Twitter or some other social media site…it’s always fun to have a chance to learn more about a fellow Cubs fan.

Today’s Prosecard is with Christin Haws, otherwise known as @kikiwrites on Twitter. Check out what she has to say about loving the Cubs and the fight they are showing this season. If you want to be interviewed for a feature Prosecard, simply email me at proseandivy@cubsmvp.com and I’ll send you some questions!

And now…Cubs fan extraordinaire, Christin Haws!

Name: Christin Haws, KikiWrites if you’re on Twitter.

PROSE AND IVY: Why are the Cubs your favorite baseball team?
CHRISTIN HAWS: It’s because of my mother. She shook off her Cardinal fan upbringing and switched sides in a fit of rebellion and chose to raise her children in Cubbie blue.

Actually, it was less deliberate than that. Mom watched/listened to Cubs games (she was brought up in a Cardinals household, but was never much of a fan) and I watched/listened with her. And so, at that impressionable young age, the seeds of love were planted. Now, twenty-some years later, I can’t imagine NOT rooting for the Cubs. They’re my home base.

P&I: Who is your favorite Cub of all-time?
CH: I hate the “favorite” questions because I’m always changing my mind, but in this case I can say with a fair amount of certainty that it’s Andre Dawson. I think the fact that we both played right field and wore number 8 at the same time during my youth sealed the deal. However, Doug Dascenzo will always be my favorite position player pitcher.

P&I: Who is your favorite Cub on the current roster?
CH: Ryan Dempster now that Ted Lilly is gone. Not that I mean to have Demp play second fiddle to Teddy. I love Demp as a pitcher and a person. He makes no excuses when he does poorly and gives away all the credit when he does well. I like watching him pitch because when he has it, it’s awesome, and when he doesn’t have it, he’ll do whatever it takes to find it. Lilly had the upperhand in my favoritism when he was on the team because he’s left-handed. I’m curiously biased like that.

P&I: What is your favorite thing about Wrigley Field and what would be the first thing you would change?
CH: My favorite thing about Wrigley is the feeling I get when I first see the field. It’s the warm, fuzzy, excited rush of YAY CUBS! No other field can do it to me like that. Oh, baby.

As for changes, aside from moving it closer to my house (that’s more my problem than Wrigley’s; six hour round trips make for long days) and upgrading the player facilities so they can be more comfortable and competitive, I’d like a designated section of the bleachers for the frat party. If you’re just there to drink, you sit there so you don’t bother the people who are there to watch the game. And any home run hit into that section is immediately recovered and given to a fan who knows the inning, score, and/or name of the opposing team.

P&I: What former Cub deserves a statue on Wrigley the most out of all the Cubs that either don’t have one or don’t have one planned already? Why?
CH: Unless there’s something in the works that I haven’t heard about, I say Fergie Jenkins. Ernie Banks and Billy Williams have theirs and Ron Santo is getting his, all rightfully so, but I include Fergie in that group of guys. I’d like the complete set.

P&I: If someone asked you ‘what is it like to be a Cubs fan?’ what would your reply be?
CH: I’d tell them that it’s just like being a fan of any other team except that the insult bullseye on your back is bigger, the World Series drought jokes are staler, and the fan base is so polarized between delusional optimists and suicidal pessimists that you sometimes feel like there’s no happy medium. Other than that, it’s totally typical.

P&I: The Cardinals call and ask for a trade of Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, Carlos Pena and Carlos Marmol for Albert Pujols. Do you make the deal? Why or why not?
CH: No deal. Pujols is a fantastic player, of this there is no doubt. But I’ve always been big on TEAMS, not just one star guy. I’d rather take my chances with the four than pin all of my hopes on one.

P&I: Which Cubs player would you most like to join Twitter so you could hear their random thoughts on a 24 hour basis?
CH: Koyie Hill. Last season the guy said he had one more home run than a dead man. Clearly, he needs to be sharing thoughts like this on a regular basis.

P&I: Ronnie Woo-Woo approaches you and reveals his biggest secret. He can make a World Series championship happen for the Cubs (he knows a guy) but in order for him to do so, the Cubs would have to give up Wrigley Field the season prior. The WS championship would happen in the first year of the new stadium. Deal, or no deal?
CH: No deal. First of all, the romantic in me wants the World Series won in Wrigley. Second of all, I’m not selling my soul (or any part of me) to Ronnie Woo-Woo. Lastly, it’s Ronnie Woo-Woo. There’s no guarantee I’d hang around long enough to hear his whole spiel.

P&I: How do you plan on celebrating the Cubs next World Series title?
CH: Ideally, I’d celebrate in Chicago, living it up and partying down with my fellow Cubs fans. It’s been a long time coming. That party promises to be epic. I’d take my mom so we could celebrate, at least a little bit, together. She is the reason I’m a Cubs fan, after all.

Realistically, however, I’ll probably have to work the next day, so whatever celebrating I could manage would be delayed until my day off. Or I’d call in sick. For several days.
 
P&I: What was your first impression when they announced the BP Crosstown Cup?
CH: I had a moment of cynacism and thought, “Great. Another way for White Sox fans to be insufferable.”

P&I: What is your prediction for the 2011 Cubs?
CH: I think because everyone has set the bar so low, they’re going to do better than anticipated. They’re going to have a good year. Maybe not a championship year, but it’ll be good. I think they’re going to end up being a fun team to watch. Not because they’ll win all the time (though I do hope they win a lot), but because they’re actually playing like a team. They’ve got fight this year. I love that.

Testing Out the New Digs – MLBlogs Now on WordPress

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Lots of updating still left be done to the site now that MLBlogs has switched over to WordPress, but so far so good.

Interested to hear what you guys think of the new look.

Still importing videos and images that were on the site before that apparently are still held up in WordPress customs. When I first logged on after the switch it looked like Prose and Ivy had been sent through an Etch-a-Sketch. Now, it’s starting to come together but would love to hear your thoughts.

One thing that will be posted to the site this week that I couldnt’ get up last week because of the construction is a bunch of fan Prosecards from Cubs Nation interviews I conducted a few weeks ago. I received some great answers from a number of fans and I look forward to sharing them with you here.

A post regarding my recent trip to Wrigley will be up soon as well including photos. I already miss the old layout of my site, but I’m coming around to building the new look. One thing I’ll be changing soon I think is the author photo. I made it the same one I use on Twitter for continuity, but I have some nice shots from Wrigley that I think would up the Cubs feel a bit and suit the ‘gravatar’ needs quite nicely.

Lots more Prose and Ivy Cubs coverage is on the way, starting today! Thanks for hanging in there while the site platform was under construction this past week…site has a new look, but I’ll be continuing to give you strong Cubs content as best I know how.

Go Cubs Go!