Hughes Blues

Dailies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dailies

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

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

Dailies

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

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

Dailies

Ted Lilly.

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

Dailies

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

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

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

Go Cubs Go!

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Soto’s Slump Solved

Dailies

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

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

Dailies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dailies

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

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

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

Dailies

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

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

Dailies

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

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

Dailies

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

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

Dailies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Couldn’t hurt.  Go Cubs Go!

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

Dailies

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

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

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

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

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

Dailies

I’m going in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Cubs Go!

Are we there yet? YES!!!

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

PonDeRosa

Dailies

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

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

Dailies

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

Go Cubs Go!
 

One City, Two Teams, Three Home Runs

Dailies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dempster v. Peavy and…Curt Schilling?

Dailies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do your thing today Demp…Go Cubs Go!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Observations and Salutations

Dailies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dailies

CUBS BASEBALL IS BACK!!!!

That…is…awesome.

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

Wow…blog puns can really be horrible.

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

Dailies

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

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

A-Rod, You Disgust Me.

Dailies

And yet, you don’t surprise me.

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

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

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

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

What a shame.

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

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

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

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I Have To Pie

Dailies

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

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

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

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

Go Cubs Go!
 
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Once Again

Dailies

Grace, Dawson and Smith.  All left saying ‘wait until next year’.

Ok, not Grace.  He didn’t get enough votes to stay on the ballot.

Congratulations to Rickey and Jim though! I always enjoyed watching Rickey play (really enjoyed watching Rickey run) and I met Jim Rice one time at a minor-league ball game in New Britain, CT.  Rice signed an autograph for me without a blink of an eye.  Classy guy, happy for his accomplishment.

Rickey and Jim were just on Letterman with a hilarious top 10 list of the Top Ten Highlights of my Career.  Oddly enough, it was Rice who led things off with number 10.  The absolute highlight of the list of highlights: Rickey with #3: “Sleeping with Madonna”.  Jim with #2: “Sleeping with Madonna (shakes Rickey’s hand)”.  Hilarious.  All in good fun, yet, I don’t doubt it.

Dawson is definitely deserving and will eventually get in, in my opinion.  Same goes for Smith.  Salma Hayek is now on with Dave.  Time to go!

hayek.png
Go Cubs Go!
 

A Hall of Fame Look at Ryne Sandberg. Is Dawson next?

Dailies

Monday is the day we find out whether Andre Dawson joins fellow Cub great Ryne Sandberg in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  While I believe this IS the year of the Hawk, many consider him to be on the fence in terms of qualifications.  I generally use Prose and Ivy for strictly observation and evaluation.  Tonight, however, in honor of The Hawk and what Monday could mean for him, I’ll use the space for celebration.  Celebration of my favorite Cub of all-time, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.

Though he made his Major League debut with the Phillies in ’81, Sandberg was traded to the Cubs for his rookie year the following season.  After spending ’82 at third base, he shifted to second, where he stayed for the remainder of his career.
Sandberg first gained national attention on June 23, 1984, when he went 5 for 6 with game tying home runs off the Cards’ Bruce Sutter in the ninth AND tenth innings on national television.  Talk about great timing.  The Cubs won it in the 11th and the contest thereafter became known as “The Sandberg Game”.  Good times.
Sandberg won the ’84 NL MVP Award hitting .314 with 200 hits, 36 doubles, 19 triples, 19 home runs, 84 RBI’s and 32 stolen bases to lead the Cubs to their first postseason appearance since 1945.  Ah, ’84.  Good year.
Sandberg was masterful in the field winning nine straight Gold Gloves at second base (’83-’91) and retiring with an all-time best .989 fielding percentage at the position.  He also set a then ML record with a 123 game errorless streak from 1989-90.  In my opinion, the best second baseman of all-time.
Sandberg led Chicago back to the playoffs in 1989, when the Cubs fell to the Giants in the NLCS. During his two trips to the playoffs, he batted .385 with a .457 OBP and a .641 slugging percentage in 10 games.  If only there were wild card series back then.
Sandberg’s best power year came in 1990 when he slugged 40 home runs, the first time a second baseman had led the league in that category since Hornsby in ’25.  He also plated 100 runs, a feat repeated in 1991 by Ryne.  Check out those old Expos uni’s.  Remember those Hawk?
Known to fans as “Ryno” or “Kid Natural”, Sandberg was also adept on the basepaths.  He stole 30 or more bases every year from 1982 to 1986, led the NL in runs scored three times and placed in the top five and additional five times.  Whether he was defending the basepaths or running on them, Ryne was a huge threat.  Speed.  Another tool Hawk had at his disposal throughout his career.  Hall of famer?  We’ll see.
After a slow start to the 1994 season (which was shortened by the strike), Sandberg abruptly announced his retirement on June 13 at age 34, citing “loss of desire”.  Sixteen months later he announced he was coming back and “Ryno” returned with two productive years in ’96 and ’97.  The more Ryno the better as far as I was concerned…still am.
Ryno was selected to 10 straight All-Star games from 1984 to 1993 and started nine of those contests.  He also took home seven Silver Slugger awards for his prowess at the plate.  Best of his time.  Best of all time.
Sandberg retired for good after the 1997 season and had his number 23 retired by the Cubs in 2005.  His 277 home runs as a second baseman were the most all-time until Jeff Kent broke the mark in 2004.  Overall, Ryno finished with a .285 BA, 403 doubles, 76 triples, 282 homers, 1,061 RBI, and 344 stolen bases in a 16 year career.  Wow.
That same year, Sandberg was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame (where all these pictures and information is from, by the way) alongside Wade Boggs on Jan 4, 2005.  In his third year on the ballot, he received 76.2 percent of the votes cast to gain entry.  Enshrined for all to honor and appreciate for years and years to come.
Later that year, he was inducted into the Hall on July 31, 2005.  Ryne is quoted in his acceptance speech as having said: “I dreamed of this as a child, but I had too much respect for baseball to think this was ever possible.  I believe it is because I had so much respect for the game and respect for getting the most out of my ability that I stand here today.”  Class all the way.
Will Monday prove 2009 to be the class that Dawson belongs to?  Only a couple days left before we find out.  I can’t wait.  Go Hawk Go!

Heeeere’s Bradley!

Dailies
Milton Bradley is a Cub.
There goes the neighborhood.
Or so they say.I’m willing to give Mr. Bradley a shot.  And I do so by showing the utmost respect.  Notice the use of the most respectable address you can use with the, “Mr. Bradley”.
Five teams in the last five years and seven in the last ten.  Ripken, one club.  DiMaggio, one club.  Yastrzemski, one club.  Ok, so maybe he’s not one of the greats in numbers or reputation. BUT, he may just be what we need to put this club where we need to be.  A world title?  Sure.  That would be great.  How about first off, we simply get out of the NLDS and reach the NLCS?  That would be a good first step for now, yes?
Bradley led the American League in on-base-percentage while hitting .321.  His 22 home runs aren’t too shabby either.  Last year at this time we thought we had this whole left bat/right field thing figured out too with Fukudome.  Turns out, not so much.  After making the All-Star team in his first season, Kosuke’s star faded and his second half of the season fizzled.  I blame exhaustion due to the schedule the MLB puts its players through compared to the league in Japan, as well as all the new cultural differences to get used to, the traveling, etc.  Moving him to center to platoon with Johnson and having the ability to sometimes still play a Soriano, Johnson, Fukudome outfield (which wasn’t too shabby overall last year) mixed with the usual combo of Soriano, Fukudome and Bradley should be a nice position to be in.  Always nice to have some depth anywhere you can get it.  I’d of course feel much better of where we are with DeRosa on the team still, but he’s not, so be it.
Bradley has never received a long term contract and this three year deal is the longest he’s ever received.  He’s been a mess, sure.  Then again, many respected baseball minds think he’s a great asset.  Hard to sign with this many teams if you weren’t worth the risk to begin with.  Also, the Cubs hitting coach, Gerald Perry, is thrilled to be reunited with Bradley who he  had in Oakland a few years back.  He thrived under Perry there in the three hole.  Will Lee still be our guy there?  Who knows.  A good problem to have though for sure.
Given where we are right now, here is how I believe the opening day line up would look:
1. Soriano, LF
2. Theriot, SS
3. Bradley, 1B
4. Lee, 3B
5. Ramirez, RF
6. Miles, 2B
7. Soto, C
8. Fukudome, CF
9. Zambrano, P
I’d be all for moving Soto and Fukudome up a spot and throwing Fontenot in the eight hole as well, with Miles starting the season as a utility guy off the bench.  Especially hard to call without seeing anyone in Spring Training together.  In fact, with the fact that Fontenot and Theriot have been successful before and are familiar with each other may cause me to lean towards starting those two up the middle if I were Piniella.  But Miles comes with a lot of heat and buzz, so I’ve got him in the projected lineup today because of it regardless.
This group of guys has always been about team which is why I think Lee and Ramirez would be cool with moving down a notch in the order to insert Bradley in the three hole, a position he’s been extremely successful in in the past.  With Bradley’s OBP and patience at the plate, it could also be one more guy to get on in front of Lee to knock in.  Then again, with Lee’s DP problems, maybe move him to the five hole and put Rami at the four?  That might be a good call too.
It’s all getting very interesting once again this winter for the Cubs.  The only other major move I’d expect they may make is obtaining Peavy in exchange for some young pitching.  Otherwise, we’re probably pretty much looking at the guys we’ll be rooting for this year, as is. Happy Mr. Bradley is a Cub.  Until he proves to us all that he doesn’t deserve the respect and benefit of the doubt, I’ll stick with addressing him in such a manner…because with Mr. Bradley in the lineup…this thing could get very interesting indeed.
And now, Prose and Ivy presents the newest member of the Cubs, Mr. Milton Bradley:

GO CUBS GO!

Prose and Ivy Intro to New MLBlog Readers

Dailies

As we are only about five hours away from flipping our baseball calendars to a whole new year and being that the MLB Network launches tomorrow in millions of fans’ homes across America (which could only bring more attention to the MLBlogs community), for any new visitors to MLBlogs.com or Prose and Ivy, I would like to wish you a happy new year! 

To kick things off heading into 2009, I thought I’d use a copy of the spheroid MLBlogs posted about Prose and Ivy earlier in the year to introduce myself to you and say welcome to my blog!  For everyone that enjoyed reading Prose and Ivy in 2008, thank you for continually stopping by and I look forward to talking Cubs baseball and baseball in general with you throughout 2009.  
Have a safe and happy new year,
Ryan
Prose and Ivy

Spheroid: Prose and Ivy

Wrigley 

MLBlogger: Ryan at Prose and Ivy
Signup date: Dec. 5, 2007

1. Why do you blog?

I live in New York City and there aren’t many Cubs fans that I’ve met here so far who are readily available to talk about the day’s Cub headlines or the most recent Cubs game.  It’s great to have access to a community of baseball fans in general, but especially to be able to reach out and communicate with other Cubs fans on a daily basis.  Until the Cubs hire me as a beat reporter/analyst, this is the closest I’ll come to either…and I love it!

2. What was your favorite post?

My favorite post would probably be the one titled “The Face, The Brace, The Pace, The Place and The Ace” or “The Poster Child”.  The first one was one of those blogs where you feel like you have so much to say it just flows once you sit down and start typing.  Those are exciting when they happen. The other one I just think is really funny…my own little parody of the Cubs upcoming ads for the 2008 team.  Good times.

3. Strangest blogging experience?

The first time I received a comment because I couldn’t believe people were actually reading my blog.  It’s made me post nearly daily lately with people responding and the feedback I’ve received regarding how many people are enjoying my page.

4. What is your favorite blog, including at least one MLBlog?

There are couple that I was really enjoying yet can’t seem to find any longer which is too bad.  I really like Crawly’s Cubs and Some Ballyard. A good mix of humor and analysis is what I really enjoy when reading someone else’s blog.  And anyone who enjoys my blog…I generally read there’s regularly too.

5. What would you be doing if you weren’t blogging?

Walking my dogs.  They REALLY should be outside on a walk right now.

6. Where do you think the blogosphere is going?

Blu-ray?  I don’t know you got me.

7. Favorite team and why?

Cubs.  Chicago Cubs.  Yes those Cubs.  Great characters on the team, great potential, great history, great fans, great stadium, the seventh inning stretch, the underdog status year in and year out, wondering if this will be the year and how many more years I’ll be wondering if this will be the year…and Ryne Sandberg.  He was the man.

Chevychase8. What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I have met two of my comedy heroes in rest rooms (BIZARRE but true).  I met Chevy Chase in rest room at a political fundraiser a few years back and was so excited I shook his hand to meet him before I had a chance to dry my hands after washing them.  After shaking my hand he looked at me and said “You gave me a wet shake.”  I didn’t know what to say…all I could come up with was “It’s all water I swear.”  The other was Bill Cosby in a Barnes and Noble bathroom in NY. I was waiting for the bathroom to become available and right behind me walk in two huge security guys…behind them, a man with sunglasses and a baseball cap.  Quickly that man became Bill Cosby.  SO COOL.  I didn’t want to bother him although inside I was freaking out as he is a stand up legend.  He then said to me “Are you waiting?”  I turned and looked at him and said “Yes, Mr. Cosby. I am waiting.” He just turned away, then turned back, smiled and said “We are waiting.”  He then left.  But for a brief moment there, Bill Cosby and I were doing the same exact thing at the same exact time.  Again…SO COOL.  (And yes, he was wearing ‘one of those sweaters’.)

9. Happiness is…

…champagne all over your team’s clubhouse at the end of the World Series.  I’d say that’s happiness indeed.

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What?!

Dailies

DeRosa for three no-names???  What?!

I get Cubs updates sent to my phone.  No big deal…not bragging…just saying.  Today’s headline read Cubs Sign Miles, Acquire Three pitchers.

Oh, interesting.

Scroll down a little further…

…they got the three pitchers in a separate deal with Cleveland, which included MARK DEROSA!!!  What?!  No Peavy?  And still next year, NO DEROSA!?!  Why?  Who is this Miles guy?  Nobody special that I can tell, at least not special enough to send away DeRosa for.  Derosa is extremely valuable, perhaps the most valuable player on the Cubs team last year.  His versatility is a key component to the Cubs success year in and year out, and yet we deal him for three young pitchers.

What?!

Congratulations Cleveland fans.  You now have yourself two of the key players in last year’s division title.  A first year closer who earned over 30 saves and probably has a decent couple years left (which is all you signed him for anyway) and a versatile, do-whatever-it-takes everyday player in DeRosa.  Enjoy.  You’re about to see why DeRosa meant so much to Cubs fans.

As I write this, I thought of his nickname, The Pulse, given his erratic heartbeat condition from earlier in the year.  Hopefully this isn’t a case of Cubs doctors knowing something the rest of us don’t.  I don’t like the thought of DeRosa in another team’s uniform, but I really don’t want to find out he’s another Cuttino Mobley, yet nobody’s speaking up that something’s seriously wrong.  The physical exam is up next of course and I’m sure Cleveland’s doctors will make sure they’re not getting damaged goods.  Here’s to DeRosa having a healthy and successful 2009 in Cleveland.

As for these new guys?  Give me a break.  Looking forward to Spring to see if any of them are worth anything near what DeRosa can bring.  And Fontenot?  Looks like your time as a daily starting Cub is now.  Looking forward to seeing you in the Spring too.

This is so disappointing.  And if it doesn’t somehow result in Peavy in a Cubs uniform next year, SOMEHOW, it will be unbelievably disappointing.  Figures it happens on the last day of 2008.  This year bit it hard in more ways than one. What a fitting ending to 2008.  5 hours, 28 minutes and counting 2008. I won’t miss you when you’re gone.

Happy New Year everyone!  Go Cubs Go in 2009!

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Hard Not to Spend

Dailies

Anyone else finding it difficult to be fiscally responsible this holiday season?  I am doing this year on a strict budget like never before and it has been tough to not go over budget on anyone on my list, and of course, hard not to ask for expensive things when others ask what may be on my list…especially since I don’t really make lists anymore.  Not like I used to anyway.

I find so many things on-line that I think would be cool to own.  Sandberg something here, Banks something there. Fukudome here, Cubs jacket there.  But most are so expensive, I don’t even suggest them when people ask if there’s anything I’d like for Christmas this year.  I know everyone is in the same boat with the economy and unless they won’t take no for an answer, I’ve decided to not ask for anything this year.  That is a hard thing to do! To simply grow up and understand that ’tis the season, but not for being greedy and asking for things you can’t afford yourself, mainly because chances are others can’t afford them either.  Ahh, to be a kid again.

I remember growing up and the big event that putting together ‘The List’ was.  Video games, jerseys, caps, entire sets of Topps baseball cards, dvd’s, autographed memorabilia, more video games.  I was game and wise to the whole Santa thing (looking forward to seeing what he puts in my stocking this year though) and I don’t think I ever really appreciated how much it took for my parents to have gifts under the tree.  I sure do now though.  Especially from my Mom those few Christmases when it was just she and my brother and I.  This economy we’re in now is making it amazingly complicated when it comes to shopping for people and affording nice things you know they’d like.  Probably not unlike what it is for a single parent to deliver a great Christmas for her two kids.  Only difference is, at that time I didn’t ‘get it’.  My list still included video games, jerseys, caps, entire sets of Topps baseball cards, dvd’s, autographed memorabilia, and more video games.  Many years later, I get it.  I haven’t asked for anything from anyone this year.  Some people just won’t take no for an answer though and nyone who demanded to get a couple ideas from me so they could make sure they got me something I like (even though I said no worries about 10 times), okay, sure, those things were Cubs things.  I’m only human and they were being really adamant about the whole thing.  Really the only thing I’m looking forward to this year is seeing my family, including my new born nephew enjoy his first Christmas.  Hard to believe my brother has a kid.  Soon he’ll be the one trying to figure out how to get those video games, jerseys, baseball card sets, etc. under the tree for his kid.  Good times.

All that being said…I’m not so concerned about St. Hendry’s pocketbook this holiday season. And I’m not going to ask for anything/anyone.  I’ve always found the best Christmas presents are either the one thing you wanted all year (that number one thing on your list growing up) or when someone gets really creative and delivers something you may have never even thought of and it makes your whole holiday.  I’m not giving a list to GM Hendry.  Time to get creative Jim.  We’re all going to go to bed knowing the economy is tough Christmas Eve, but we all hope you get creative and come through with the team that will provide the greatest gift of all.  (Hint: the organization has had 100 years to figure out what that would be).

One more day of editing this week and then its off to see the family.  Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, no matter what it is you may be celebrating!  Happy holidays to you all!  And of course, Go Cubs Go!

Looking Forward to Christmas

Dailies

Last year at this time I was wondering if the Cubs would deliver Fukudome for the holidays.  They did.  This year, it’s looking more and more likely that the big acquisition will be Milton Bradley (insert holiday board game joke here).

With the Cubs signing Gathright, a speedy left-handed bat with the skills to be our fourth outfielder and specialty of covering center field it looks like my favorite up and comer Felix Pie will soon be sent out to pasture (or at least to wear another team’s uni’s).  Edmonds was fun to watch while he was here and I’m glad we’re holding onto Johnson.  Soriano, Johnson and Fukudome is an unlikely threesome when it comes to our starting outfield for ’09.  More than likely the Cubs will sign Bradley, platoon Fukudome and Johnson in center and have Gathright around to sub anywhere, anytime.  This ability makes me even more nervous that DeRosa will no longer be a Cub come the 2009 season.

I don’t believe Gathright plays second base but his versatility delivers a speedy player with the same value that DeRosa delivers (veteran utility guy) and Fontenot may be getting his shot at second base.  With Furcal no longer an option at short, the idea of moving Theriot over and putting Furcal there is moot which even more so makes the idea of trading DeRosa and using Fontenot full time more realistic.

The Peavy deal seems to have died for good so it looks like the only significant difference we can expect is a power hitting lefty in the outfield…or, as I stated earlier, Milton Bradley.  (Wouldn’t it be great though if we ended up with Manny?  I know.  It’s still fun to joke about though.  Also, wouldn’t it be great if all the news from Hendry and the Padres about Peavy ended up being like when you’re parents use to pretend you weren’t getting something for Christmas that you ended up getting, just to mess with you and build the drama?  That would definitely be cool).

As I write this I’m trying to remember the last time Bradley had a meltdown or a tantrum that made headlines.  I can’t even remember when it was so maybe that’s a good thing.  I understand bringing in a quality guy that Piniella is familiar with like Gathright.  I can appreciate the desire to add a power hitting lefty.  I just hope DeRosa isn’t left out of the equation come ’09 and I’m disappointed in the signs of things to come as far as Pie is concerned.  Also, not so sure that Bradley is the way to go and enough to get us out of the first round of the playoffs (that is of course if we make it in next year).

Two division titles in a row is nothing to sneeze at.  Interested to see what tricks and gifts Hendry has hidden up his sleeve for this year’s holiday season.  With all the ads and talk on the Cubs’ site about the Caravan, can’t help but wonder who the big addition is going to be when it comes to the convention and the caravan Cub roster of representatives.

With a week of preproduction on the pilot, a couple days of shooting and a week of 14 hour edit days put in this week, I’m exhausted.  Looking forward to enjoying some fudge, getting some rest and hanging with the family over the holidays.  And of course, once again, looking forward to seeing what Hendry has in store for all us Cubs fans on the ‘Nice’ list.

Go Cubs Go!

What’s with the DeRo Fire Sale?

Dailies

Shot a couple of segments for a pilot for a new television show I created with a friend of mine today.  The day started at 3am for me and it was a long shoot day.  The shoot went great though.  The comedy we wrote for it ended up playing really well, the actors were great, the crew was phenomenal and the director and production company behind it were nothing but supportive and 100% committed to getting the best episode taped possible, regardless of the fact that our call time had them up at 2am. (That’s early for anyone, but especially Executive Producers and Presidents of production companies, believe me!)

Editing it all next week and I can’t wait to see the footage and how it all comes together in post. We have had some strong interest in the show we shot a pilot for back in January and after nearly a year of development with various networks, we came up with a related premise and cranked it out today.  It will be interesting to see what happens with it all for sure.

Speaking of which, it will also be interesting to see what happens to DeRosa.  Winter meetings wrapped and Peavy has yet to sign on the dotted line.  Sabathia and Rodriguez both found new homes and will call New York City home for several upcoming seasons.  From here on out the other pitchers will start finding out where their loyalties will begin to lie and really only the Cubs are still rumored to be in the fight for Peavy.  It’s just doesn’t feel right to be going through all of this to get Peavy when we have to sacrifice DeRosa.

Whether he ends up a Twin or a Philly, I’m still not one-hundred percent sold on losing such a versatile player as DeRosa. People get injured all the time and to have DeRosa’s ability to play numerous positions and deliver a quality bat with a quality backup (Fontenot, Cedeno) puts the Cubs in a very good place to be…especially with an already strong rotation.  We’ve won back-to-back division titles yet have been swept out of the playoffs two years running.  Because of our starting pitching?  I don’t think so.  Did we get there because of guys like DeRo stepping up and filling holes and making it happen?  Yes, I do think so.  So maybe a utility, versatile player like DeRosa is more valuable than a pitcher of Peavy’s caliber?  I don’t know.  I don’t know which would mean more to the team in terms of playoff success in the long run.

Thoughts?

All I know is, I like the rotation we have even without Peavy.  Piniella seems to feel the same way.  I know DeRosa was practically the MVP of the Cubs in ’08 and his versatility is hard to replace.  Throw in Pie and a couple others and maybe its too pricey?  Again, I don’t know.  I’m not sure how I feel about this.

Anyone?  Anyone?

Also, before I go try to get some much needed rest, today I saw that ‘Prose and Ivy’ made it to number 58 on the MLBlogs Top 100 Fan Blog list for the entire 2008 baseball season/year.  Thanks to everyone who stops by on a regular basis!  This community is a great place for baseball fans and with all the great blogs that are on the site, I’m just grateful for those of you who decide to stop to read this one.  Go Cubs Go!


Sweet, Now and Laters

Dailies

Winter Meetings Now, All This Week!

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Spring Training Later (soon!)

‘O’ Here We Go Again

Dailies

When it comes to Felix Pie’s potential and what he can on the major league level, fans are split with how much he could ever do for the ballclub.  What if I told you Pie could be the guy that gives the Cubs an end of the 2009 season stat line that looks like this?

 pie close up swinging bat.png
10 11 ERA 2.85 IP 173.2 146 HR 17 BB 59 SO 166

Would you be happy?  I mean sure the 17 HR’s would still be less than preferred, but 173.2 innings pitched?  Come on, for anyone never mind a center fielder, that’s impressive!  Of course that’s ridiculous and it wouldn’t be Pie giving us those stats.  How can  Pie deliver these stats for the Cubs this year?  As a key part of a three-team trade between the Padres, O’s and Cubs which in the end, lands the Cubs starting pitcher: Jake Peavy.
Familiar trade rumor partners surfaced today with the Orioles mentioned as the potential third team involved, necessary to complete a trade of Jake Peavy from the San Diego Padres.  Sweet Lou mentioned recently that fans shouldn’t expect any more deals to go down for starting pitching as we’re good to go there compared to other areas of the team.  Zambrano, Harden, Lilly, Dempster and Marquis/Marshall have everyone feeling rather comfortable, including Piniella.  This of course was before our old trade rumor partners of Winter Meetings ’07, the Orioles came calling with Garrett Olson up for grabs and all they want in return…Felix Pie.
Wow.  Now, I have been a huge fan of Pie since he came up and I truly STILL believe he has a huge upside.  However, the platoon of outfielders we have right now can more than handle center field for ’09 and if Pie can get us Jake Peavy?  A guy who averages 12 wins a year, loves pitching in the national league and in 2007, put up a 19 spot in the win column and averages over 180 strike outs per season?  That just may be more than I could possibly ever expect from him in the long run, especially considering pitching wins nowadays.  
We send Pie to Baltimore.  Baltimore send Olson to us.  We send Olson to San Diego.  San Diego sends us Peavy.  It’s no DeRosa for Roberts.  It’s better.  We keep DeRosa (last year’s Cub MVP if you ask me, co-MVP anyway with Dempster) and get a rotation of Zambrano, Peavy, Lilly, Dempster, Harden.  Sign another strong left handed hitter and throw him in the middle of the lineup and dare I say, I’d be even more excited about this team’s chances than I was last year’s.  And I thought last year was THE year.  I know Cubs fans say that all the time and I’m guilty of hoping that certain previous seasons were…2008 however, I truly thought was.  Give me this rotation in 2009 and I have no words prepared as of now to describe my excitement.
It’s all still rumors of course, nothing official.  Given the fact that Piniella said we’re done with Peavy talks, I’m skeptical to say the least.  And given my new approach to being a fan (no expectations) I’m not getting my hopes up.  Worst case, we keep a player I think has a lot to offer in the near future.  Best case, we get Jake Peavy.  Enough said.  Can’t wait to see how this thing plays itself out!  Go Cubs Go!
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The Past Few Weeks

Dailies

Ok, so this didn’t exactly come ‘tomorrow’.  But let’s just say the fan has been hit HARD lately as things have been absolutely crazy and this was the best I could do.  I’m in between productions right now, yet still putting in crazy hours negotiating the next project, plus doing stand up gigs, auditioning for television, film and commercial projects and following the Cubs CRAZY off-season.  Not to mention only enjoying one day off a week and enjoying the rare down time watching Entourage and The Hills, which is on in the background right now.  That’s right, I said it, The Hills…one of my few guilty MTV pleasures.  I can’t believe Audrina thinks Lauren hooked up with Justin-Bobby and if it actually happened, I can’t believe LC would hook up with Justin-Bobby!  Crazy.  While I’ve watched the show since it’s been on, the cool thing about it now is that my girlfriend is now working with Lauren on designing her upcoming teen-lit book covers.  As a fan of the show, it’s cool to have a girlfriend who knows LC.  Good times.  Good times indeed.  And Scorsese bailing out Vince’s career and the boys moving the storyline to the UWS of Manhattan?  My neighborhood?  Very cool.

OK, enough venting…NOW…some Cubs baseball.
Where to begin?!
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Lou Piniella won NL Manager of the Year and Heidi and Spencer just announced they got married…wait, my bad…let’s try that again…Piniella takes the NL Central and the manager of the year award.  And why not?  With all the decisions that he had to make between setup men, closers, rotations, replacements for injuries, sitting high-paid all-star outfielders, introducing new talent from trades and free agents signings…to take all of that and win the division for the second year in a row is an amazing feat.  Definitely one deserving of the award when you consider it was during the pressure filled 100th anniversary of the Cubs last world series title.  Piniella has been the difference maker when it comes to the brain trust of the Cubs without a doubt.  Hendry provides the pieces but its up to Piniella to use them correctly and make the right decisions.  So far so good…just need to figure out that postseason.  Congratulations Lou, here’s to another next year.
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Soto take the ROY award.  And WHY NOT?  Rookie catcher nearly ties Cubs records, becomes the first starting rookie catcher in the all-star game in forever and takes a promising rotation and gets the most out of them all the way through the season.  Managing a pitching staff and 162 games is no easy job, even for a veteran.  To come in as a rookie and lead the way Soto did this year…I think that’s what made the difference in the voting and I look forward to enjoying years of watching him as the Cubs catcher.  Way to go Soto.
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Cubs decide to let Wood go.  Wow.  Let’s face it.  He was supposed to be the face of the franchise and in a way he was.  Lots of promise followed by years of let down.  Injuries, injuries, injuries.  We’ll always remember the 20 strikeout game and the run through 2003.  However, we’ll also always remember the injuries and how we never really knew when that string that Wood’s health seemed to always be hanging by was going to snap.  I’m appreciative what he accomplished while with the team, I’m happy to see him go and I’m looking forward to seeing how he does in the future.  I’m also disappointed that if the Cubs do win it next year, or any year in the near future, that Wood won’t be a part of it.  Definitely one of the guys who deserved to experience bringing a title to Wrigley after all these years.  I don’t believe the Cubs will look to sign F-Rod so if that is in fact the case, it’s your turn Marmol.  (Yes, I would rather see Marmol as the closer than Cub newbie, Kevin Gregg).  Enough of the set up, time to step up.
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The Cubs re-signed Dempster.  My cell phone is set up to receive Cub updates and when the news came in that the Cubs re-signed Dempster…it’s not too often in one’s life when you give a genuine “PHEW” sound, one usually reserved for over-acting or cartoons.  When the text came in, I genuinely let out a “PHEW”.  Dempster was great once he found himself in a starting rotation again and he’s going to be key to the Cubs future success.  I would’ve been greatly let down if the Cubs hadn’t re-signed him, so again…glad they did.  And “PHEW”!
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Cuban getting shut out as owner of the team???  Really???  Let’s hope this report is false.  I can’t think of any potential owner with the same mindset and temperament, definitely no one with a more approach to owning a sports franchise as Cuban would be to the Cubs.  The way he handles owning the Mavs in Dallas…that’s a big reason why the baseball bigs are against his owning the Cubs.  It should be a big reason why they’d want him to.  (Forget the legal accusations that have come up of late.  No one needs a criminal owning their team, but something tells me the Cuban, Hendry, Piniella trio could result in a LOT of fun years at Wrigley).
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The Cubs signed Manny Ramirez! Ok, this last one didn’t happen.  But it sure would be cool if it had.  If I don’t talk to you beforehand, have a great Thanksgiving!  GO CUBS GO!
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New Approach

Dailies

First off, is there a more appropriate picture for MLBlogs than this one, titled “Fans Shed Light on the Game?”

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Perfect, right?  
Ok, now second…the main thought behind this post.  After watching the Cubs this postseason and just now, watching the final out of the NLCS, I have decided that going forward I have no expectations.  From now on, every game, every season…no expectations.  None.
Other than enjoying myself as a fan, I have no expectations.  I may like our chances, but nothing above that.  The reasons are two-fold: Tampa Bay and Philadelphia.
Potential 2008 World Series matchup: The Rays versus The Phillies.
Now sure, the Rays haven’t locked anything up as of yet, but chances are those two teams are facing off in this year’s Fall Classic.  Not that I expect it mind you…I just like the chances.  
This year especially goes to show that it’s either your year, or its not.  I mean it has to be that way…it’s the only way it makes sense.  The Phillies barely took the East and they’ve been competitive for a while now…only its been 15 years since they’ve been in a World Series.  It wasn’t their time and they’re about to find out if their time has come.  
The Rays?  Are you kidding me?  Talk about taking advantage of this very simple theory…it could absolutely be their time.  They’re one game away from hitting the ultimate seven game series to find out.  
For 100 years now it has not been the Cubs year.  It could go on for a long time.  The odds that its your year are so slim…1 in 30 to be exact.  That leaves 29 other teams whose year it could be.  You can’t like those odds as an investor.  And that’s what we are…financial, emotional and vast amount of time investors.  You have to love something a great amount to devote such a strong investment in something with odds so great…and you’d be a fool to expect anything from that kind of investment. 
I believe we feel let down season after season because of expectations.  Not because of goats, cats or overall zealous fans in unscheduled meetings with at best average-skilled outfielders at key moments in playoff games.  Because of expectations.  We know the team is good.  Especially recently.  NL Central title after title, back to back years.  Sure they lost last year, but didn’t we expect better once in October?  Yes.  Did we get it?  No.  So we were disappointed.  
This year: best record in the National League.  Did we expect great things in the post-season? Yes.  Did we get it?  No.  So we are disappointed.  Maybe its time to simply go into season after season devoting all that we choose to simply because we choose to, to enjoy it…not because we expect to get anything in return.  Not because we think we may see something special happen that day, like a no-hitter.  Not because we expect the team will improve upon last year’s performance and take it’s level of success up a notch.  Not because we think ‘this is the year’.  Not because we expect the end of the drought.  Just simply without expectation and for simple enjoyment and love of the game.  
That way, we remain the greatest fans in the world…with a great history, a great ballpark, a great GM not afraid to spend money and put talent on the field for the fans in the seats…yet accepting of the fact that year in and year out it remains simply, 1 in 30.  
Is this possible?  Is this something I can do?  I don’t know the answer to that, but I’m going to try.  No expectations…simply invest and enjoy.  To achieve a World Series title would be the ultimate accomplishment for the franchise (and I say that because the Cubs have the longest drought in sports, not that it wouldn’t be a great achievement for any team).  People say that with achieving goals, it shouldn’t be about the destination, but the journey.  This journey could be LONG for Cubs fans.  It might be about time we really start enjoying it.  I hear it makes the destination all the sweeter in the end.
No expectations.  But what about the desire?  No doubt about it…this is going to be tough.
Go Cubs Go (and of course in case you’re reading this, hello Joe the Plumber!)
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RIGHT OFF!

Dailies

“JERRY: You should just do it like a Band-Aid. One motion! Right off!”

As a fan of the Seinfeld series for years, this is one of my favorite quotes from the show.  If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll recognize it as Jerry’s suggested method of breaking up with someone in comparison to the best way to taking off a band-aid…one motion…RIGHT OFF!  Sure, it’s uncomfortable and hurts a bit, but it’s going to hurt anyway so just get it over with and move on already.

That’s how, after using a week of blogging absence to serve as a proverbial band-aid to the wound that was the Cubs sweeping effort in the NLDS by the victorious Dodgers, I have decided to now handle my getting over this brutal defeat.  RIGHT OFF!
And so it goes.
So now we’re looking at the off-season (sooner than expected…oh, right…RIGHT OFF!).  What are the Cubs going to do to fix this 100 year flop?  In recent years, we’ve been close to setting the clock back to zero…just didn’t have quite enough in the tank to do so.  Although I thought this particular group of guys was just what we needed.  Apparently not.  So.  Here is what we’re looking at for the offseason.  The roster, the free agents, the decisions.  The following is from a recent MLB.com article written by Cubs reporter, Carrie Muskat:  

“CONTRACT ISSUES

Free agents: RHP Ryan Dempster, OF Jim Edmonds, RHP Chad Fox, RHP Bob Howry, RHP Jon Lieber, 1B Daryle Ward, RHP Kerry Wood.

Eligible for arbitration: IF Ronny Cedeno, LHP Neal Cotts, RHP Chad Gaudin, OF Reed Johnson, RHP Michael Wuertz.

Club options: RHP Rich Harden ($7 million; picked up Oct. 8), C Henry Blanco, $3 million ($300,000 buyout).

Player options: None

Non-tender possibilities: None

CATCHERS

Geovany Soto, .285, 23 HRs, 86 RBIs

The Cubs expect Soto to follow up his sensational rookie season with another solid year. Henry Blanco was a mentor to Soto, but whether that’s worth the $3 million option owed him will have to be determined. Blanco started 45 games.

FIRST BASE

Derrek Lee, .291, 20 HRs, 90 RBIs
Micah Hoffpauir, .362, 25 HRs, 100 RBIs (Triple-A)

Hoffpauir is a solid left-handed bat with no place to play. He could be a better-than-average backup, but Lee never likes to take a day off.

SECOND BASE

Mark DeRosa, .285, 21 HRs, 87 RBIs
Mike Fontenot, .305, 9 HRs, 40 RBIs

DeRosa did seem to play more right field than second base in the final month because of Kosuke Fukudome’s struggles. Fontenot is a solid left-handed option.

SHORTSTOP

Ryan Theriot, .307, 1 HR, 38 RBIs, 22 SBs
Ronny Cedeno, .269, 2 HRs, 28 RBIs

Theriot improved from a year ago, although his numbers did go down again in the final month of play. Cedeno hit .378 in the first month but didn’t maintain that pace.

THIRD BASE

Aramis Ramirez, .289, 27 HRs, 111 RBIs

DeRosa is the backup at third to Ramirez, who notched his sixth 100-RBI season in the last eight years and set career highs with 44 doubles and a .380 on-base percentage.

OUTFIELD

Alfonso Soriano, .280, 29 HRs, 75 RBIs
Kosuke Fukudome, .257, 10 HRs, 58 RBIs
Reed Johnson, .303, 6 HRs, 50 RBIs
Felix Pie, .287, 10 HRs, 55 RBIs (Triple-A)

The Cubs head into the offseason again unsure about center field. Johnson made a positive impact and Jim Edmonds (19 homers, 49 RBIs with Cubs) did better than expected. Pie starred in the Minors but hasn’t been able to make the transition. He is still young. Soriano is signed through 2014, Fukudome through 2011. Fukudome batted .217 after the All-Star break, and one option the team may consider is adding a Japanese hitting coach.

ROTATION

RHP Carlos Zambrano, 14-6, 3.91 ERA, 188 2/3 IP, 130 K’s
LHP Ted Lilly, 17-9, 4.09 ERA, 204 2/3 IP, 184 K’s
RHP Rich Harden, 5-1, 1.77 ERA, 71 IP, 89 K’s (Cubs)
RHP Jason Marquis, 11-9, 4.53 ERA, 167 IP, 91 K’s
LHP Sean Marshall, 3-5, 3.86 ERA, 65 1/3 IP, 58 K’s

Dempster earned the Game 1 start in the NLDS after winning a career-high 17 games. A wild card in the mix is lefty Rich Hill, who won 11 games and led the team in strikeouts in 2007. Hill struggled with his control and back problems in ’08. Another option to be considered is right-hander Angel Guzman.

BULLPEN

RHP Carlos Marmol, 2-4, 2.68 ERA, 82 Gs, 114 K’s
LHP Neal Cotts, 0-2, 4.29 ERA, 50 Gs
RHP Michael Wuertz, 1-1, 3.63 ERA, 45 Gs (Triple-A)
RHP Jeff Samardzija, 1-0, 2.28 ERA, 26 Gs (Cubs)
RHP Chad Gaudin, 9-5, 4.40 ERA, 50 Gs (Cubs/A’s)
RHP Kevin Hart, 2-2, 6.51 ERA, 21 Gs (Cubs)

If the Cubs don’t re-sign Wood, who had 34 saves in his first season as a closer, then Marmol would likely get the job with Samardzija as the No. 1 setup man.”

PROSE AND IVY THOUGHTS:

As for the free-agents:  How do you not figure out a way to keep Ryan Dempster?  As far as I’m concerned he’s one of the most valuable pitchers in the game right now.  17 wins in his first year back in a starting rotation, which could have been higher if the Cubs didn’t blow a couple of those games for him late…and I guy who is comfortable pitching late in a game if need be in the postseason.  Some may feel Dempster jinxed us this year with his predictions in the Spring, but I’d rather have a confident pitcher who can follow it up and performs well in Wrigley, than some unknown Wrigley-untested potential bum with a big name.  I say keep Dempster…and Wood.  Sure he’s a heart attack across the board for Cubs fans and is extremely injury prone.  But, with Marmol in the set up role, its hard to find a better 1-2 punch late in the game.  Unless of course they feel like spending for K-Rod.  Then Marmol K-Rod may send us to 161-1 next year (I don’t want to get ridiculous of course).

As for those eligible for arbitration: Goodbye everyone!  Except Reed Johnson.  I say keep Johnson, lose Edmonds and try to find a strong left-handed swinging center-fielder to start for us, keeping Soriano in left and Fukudome in right.  Fukudome went South come the second half of the season, but I have a feeling that was just first year exhaustion and will get better as we go on.  His defense is impeccable too.  Having him on the team as a first option RF and Derosa around to back him up when the lumber goes silent is a situation I’m okay with.

Club options:  Harden is going to be our leader in wins next year.  That’s how I feel about Harden’s potential in a full season as a Cub so I’m thrilled the Cubs picked up his option.  Blanco?  I don’t know.  He’s fine as a back up.  $3M isn’t that much for a back up catcher so I suppose I’m fine with keeping him.  Not sure who else we’d get to back up the extremely talented Soto.  Thoughts anyone?  I’d pick up the option unless anyone has any better ideas?

The rotation: I would leave our rotation as is however I would switch out Marquis for Marshall as our fifth starter.  This of course would require re-signing Demp.

The bullpen: Get rid of Cotts, Weurtz and Gaudin.  See what that money can get us elsewhere.  Love Marmol in the set up role of course and is the perfect go to guy if Wood can’t handle the closing job or gets injured.  If that’s the case, I agree with Muskat: give Samardzija a shot in the setup role and see what happens.

Clearly a left-handed heavy swinging bat is needed.  Maybe that requires signing a rightfielder who’s a lefty and moving Fukudome to center with Reed Johnson as the fourth fielder and Pie close on everyone’s heels again?  I’m a huge Pie fan and like the kid’s potential, but I have a feeling we’re looking at 2010 for his first complete season as a starting CF for the Cubs.  Hendry might end up having $118 million dollars to play with this off-season.  That’s the same number he had last winter and he followed that up with a repeat title in the Central.  

Same spending amount sounds great.  How about greater results?  (RIGHT OFF!)  Wait ’til next year!  Go Cubs Go!  

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100 And Counting

Dailies
It’s official. Cubs Baseball 2008, R.I.P.
The Cubs lost in LA tonight to the Dodgers and were swept out of the NLDS for the second straight year.  More or less it boils down to this: if you can’t handle the RISP, you have to deal with the R.I.P.
The whole thing blows my mind honestly.  This was not the Cubs team I wrote about all season.  This was some other team, right?  Come on, perhaps some other group of guys? Had to be.  These guys had some fake on the mound in Game 1 wearing a Dempster costume who couldn’t find the strike zone at Wrigley.  Had four impostors in the infield who couldn’t field a ground ball for an out cleanly.  Had a leadoff hitter who forgot about the ‘hitter’ part.  Had an All-Star right fielder who couldn’t do anything.  Led the league in rolling their eyes at the umps as opposed to celebrating wins in front of them.  Had the nerve to leave Wrigley Field with an ‘L’ flag flying and the baseball season as a whole with a loss.  No, this couldn’t have been the same group of guys, right?  And if it was, what a horrible time to choose to stink up the joint.
And while I thought these guys had what it takes, apparently I was wrong and now who knows how many of them will be back next year for sure?
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Even career years such as these…now…really don’t matter, do they?
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An unbelievable season followed up by an even more unbelievable ending.
We have no choice though.  It’s happened.  We lost…again.  Believe it.  Nine straight post season losses.
Like the Cubs season, no more to come here tomorrow.  This one stung and is going to take a week or so to get over.  100 and counting…
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NLDS: Dodgers 2, Cubs 0

Dailies
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Oh, come on…not again.  Marmol and Wood pitching innings that hardly matter.  Constant booing raining down at Wrigley.  Sure handed fielders botching plays left and right.  Four errors, tying an LDS record, one contributed by each of our infielders.  Giving up 10 runs in one game.  Going to L.A. down 2-0.  
This is NOT what I had in mind.  Enough of this nonsense, no more goats…time for some heroics.  Go Cubs Go!!!  Get some momentum and bring this thing back to Wrigley!!!

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And So It Is

Dailies

Three days away…Wrigley Field…Game 1, NLDS.  

Dodgers.  Cubs.  
Awesome.
161 regular season games, full of exciting drama, big hits, breakthroughs, milestones, career-best seasons and a long list of other highlights in this 2/3’s of the 2008 Cubs’ season.  
In the first third, Spring Training, the organization found itself coming off a successful run at a  division championship the year before, which was unfortunately followed up by a not so successful sweep in the first round of the playoffs by Arizona.  That wasn’t how it was supposed to go.  No one in the front office, the dugout, or the bleacher seats thought the Cubs were built to be swept in the NLDS.  But that is exactly what happened and for an organization short on opportunities to claim another World Series title, one that they’d waited for nearly a century to obtain, everyone in the front office knew that there were some serious decisions that needed to be made.  These decisions made up a huge chunk of a dramatic offseason and a Spring that included four key storylines: the rotation, the closer, the outfield and the “second baseman”.  
Come Spring Training one the key issues was figuring out who our five starters were going to be when the games counted starting March 31st.  And there was a great battle to figure out who those five would be.  Some guys came out of the gates quickly to prove themselves to Piniella and company and stayed the course.  Ohers had an up and down Spring and some were a huge disappointment.  Z and LIlly were no-brainers, but the rest were up in the air.  Would the old favorite Lieber make the squad?  What about Marquis?  Can he even bring anything worthwhile to the table this year?  Or what about Dempster?  Should we really consider our closer, Ryan Dempster as a starter this year?  It would make room for Wood to potentially become the closer if the organization so chose.  All very important question that were being bounced around the clubhouse, media and fan base.  In the end, Zambrano and Lilly were teamed up with Dempster, Marquis and Rich Hill.  
Come the regular season, Zambrano and Lilly were pretty much what you’d expect but Dempster was amazing at home.  One of the greatest home field pitchers in the game developed in Dempster as he became a guy to truly challenge Z for the ace role, especially when you’re talking consistency and reliability at Wrigley.  Hill faded fast as it became more painful for fans to watch him and thankfully, the organization found a way to land one of baseball’s greatest steals, in a trade for Rich Harden.  This group would become one of the best rotations in baseball by season’s end.
The closer situation was interesting from Spring on as well.  Simply making such a huge decision as taking your closer and bringing him into a starter role, one he hadn’t held in years is news enough.  But to have a competition in Spring to see who would replace him…and to add to it that one of the contenders is fan-favorite, uber-talented yet often-injured Kerry Wood, made it one of the biggest stories of the Spring, spilling into the regular season.  The trio of Howry, Marmol and Wood pushed each other all Spring for the job.  The organization seemed to be hoping, pulling, pushing for Wood to grab the job as they gave him many opportunities to step up and grab it, even one instance where after an injury they figured well let’s just see if he can successfully pitch two days in a row and that will pretty much seal the deal.  Two days in a row?  I was thinking we’re going to need our closer a lot more than two days in a row (hopefully).  Maybe that wasn’t the best final test to give him the job.  I always wanted Marmol to land the job as I thought he had had the best Spring.  As it turned out, the job did go to Wood and he had an All-Star season with the ninth inning all his, one of the best in the game.  And the eighth belonged to Marmol.  You couldn’t ask for a more powerful late inning duo as they proved to be a key element to the Cubs clinching the Central for a second straight season.
And of course, you need great position players to back these pitchers up, right?  So then what to do about the outfield?  Aside from Soriano, nobody was a lock to land an outfield job with the Cubs.  Ok, maybe Fukudome.  But no one had ever seen him perform in a MLB game.  Sure, the Cubs had scouted him in some of the greatest international baseball there is, but still…he hadn’t faced MLB pitching on a regular basis.  While Fukudome was a pick up that excited millions of Cubs fans at the time, including myself, he was still an unproven (and expensive) commodity.  A virtual unknown.  He ended up with the right field gig and came out with a bang, hitting a double in his first MLB at-bat and then with a game tying three-un home run in the bottom of the ninth at Wrigley against the Brewers on Opening Day.  While his regular season’s first half made him a legitimate All-Star, for some reason the second half of the season saw Fukudome struggle his way to less playing time and even some time on the bench.  Pickups like Jim Edmonds (the most unlikely I’d say…he was a CARDINAL) and Reed Johnson proved to be huge difference makers in the outfield and the Cubs were able to send young, full of potential center fielder Pie to the minors for the Summer until late season call-ups.  It gave the organization a great record of wise decisions up front and then smooth strategic dealing when it was needed.
And of course, the second baseman.  Rumors, rumors, rumors.  Brian Roberts.  Mark DeRosa.  Mark DeRosa, Brian Roberts. Uma, Oprah.  Oprah, Uma.  Letterman’s joke went over like a fart in church (don’t think I like this analogy actually…I’ve heard people fart in church and it is rather funny) and who knows how this trade would have ended up in the Cubs Win/Loss columns.  Roberts would have lead off and although Soriano struggled here and there throughout the season, he ended up being an All-Star and a huge offensive catalyst for us.  DeRosa is more valuable a player than Roberts will ever be.  The things DeRosa does on the field and the amount of positions the guy can play….this team would not be where it is right now if it wasn’t for Mark DeRosa.  Thought I’d be okay with a trade in the Spring….really glad it didn’t happen looking back.
Which brings us, to looking forward.  On Wednesday, Game 1 of the NLDS kicks off.  Ryan Dempster, closer converted to starter with 17 wins this year will be on the mound, in the stadium where he dominated all year for the Cubs.  We’ll get the Dodgers first up and I think this is going to be one amazing series.  Joe Torre’s first post season with the Dodgers, alongside his former nemesis, Manny Ramirez.  The Dodgers are going to be a huge challenge for the Cubs and it’s going to come down to more of what got them here.  Great pitching, great management, great decisions…in fact, next to all of those ‘great’s, you can also include ‘timely’.  We find a way to continue our great and timely everything that we’ve managed to come up with in the Spring and Summer, then the last third of this season, the Fall could be a classic, in more ways than one.  GO CUBS GO!!!
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Made Me Think

Dailies

This video sparked the stream of conciousness that follows.  Please watch before reading.

http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/player.swf?mediaId=3610493

Historically, aside from all the wins and losses and eliminations and playoffs and naming of a World Series champion this year…going forward the record books and baseball landscape are going to look a bit different as they are about to lose two of their East coast mainstays, Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium.  One with simply a new building and one with not only a new building but a new name.  Depending on how things go this weekend, as of end of day Sunday, Shea Stadium will cease to exist as the home of the New York Mets.  As a kid who grew up on the East Coast, this is where I’ve seen most of the baseball games I’ve gone to.  When I went to the game the other night I couldn’t help but feel sad that this place was no longer going to exist.  You could tell fans around the ballpark were already thinking about the fact that Shea would no longer be around too. Hard not to with fans taking pictures for their own favorite memory spots inside and outside of the stadium, as well as the organization’s countdown to the final home game.  

There’s a certain vibe that can be felt in a ballpark. Some don’t exactly share the same amount of history as others do.  Either they haven’t been around as long or haven’t had the same amount of successful, memorable seasons as other teams have had in their ballparks.  Wrigley and Fenway will now be the last two remaining stadiums from the OLD days.  They are classics…historical landmarks in the fabric of the baseball society.  With every new cookie-cutter stadium that is built and named after some stupid cell phone company or bank, the closer we get to losing a large part of what has made baseball what it is today.  The venues that the game has been played in.  Think about it.  Some of you may have moved with your family at some time in your life.  Left the house that you grew up in.  Left the only home you and your family have ever known.  It’s a sad thing to go through.  I know because I’ve fought my family on them doing so for a long time now.  I’m sure eventually it would be best for my parents to move out of the house that is now a little too big for them and its been a little selfish on my part to request that they stay.  People say, “What’s the big deal?  It’s just a house.  You’ll still be family no matter where your parents live and regardless of whether you’ll be able to go back to the only home you’ve ever known or not, it’s about where your family is that makes a house a home, not the actual house itself”.  That may be true, but then why does it matter so much to so many that nothing does change and that you’re able to keep the same house forever?  It’s because that’s where all your history lives and breathes.  And as baseball fans, our fellow fans become our baseball family and our stadiums our baseball family’s home.  

Root for a team long enough and you don’t even need to know the people around you at the ball game.  Just the simple fact that you wear the same team colors and have laughed and cried at the same history of the team together is all that matters.  When it comes to being a baseball fan, that’s what matters.  The memories.  And the memories will always be there.  It just doesn’t feel the same though when you think about the fact that the tangible place in which those memories took place will be gone forever.  And for baseball fans that have had to go through this around the country, it’s a very sad thing.  Shea Stadium, Yankee Stadium and every other ballpark that has been shut down over the years because it was simply to old and out of date to invest in and carry on, had fans that went through the same thing New York Yankees and New York Mets fans are going through now.  The memories live on but the tangible home of those memories soon to be lost forever.  That is a sad thing.  One of the biggest necessary evils of the game I suppose.  Let’s just hope Wrigley Field is never added to the list and that Cubs fans never have to experience this kind of loss.

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The Cubs have the best record in the National League, are playing well, have already had a magical regular season and starting next Wednesday, start their postseason quest of becoming World Series Champions for the first time in 100 years.  Given all of that, even I’m surprised I was able to post a blog that feels like a giant downer.  Fact is, some losses hurt more than others…and while any kind of series loss would be painful for Cubs fans, after watching the video included above about the fire sale of memorabilia at Shea, the thought of the loss of Wrigley entered my mind and I couldn’t help but think that in this ‘anything is possible’ world of ours…no matter how much history the stadium has and how much love for the place fans have for it, Wrigley could eventually also go away.  And to not bring a World Series championship to Wrigley before that does happen…well, that just wouldn’t be right.  It’s been nearly 100 years since the last time the Cubs won it all.  With all that Wrigley means to the Cubs and its fans, and how much it is a part of the team and the club’s identity and history, I think its waited long enough to share in a championship season. It’s time Wrigley has a stadium full of Cubs players and Cubs fans cheering inside it after the final out of the World Series is recorded and the Cubs are World Champions once again…before something awful/corporate happens and that experience is no longer a possibility.
Less than a week until the first game of the NLDS at Wrigley.  Sunday night we’ll know who we’re playing.  And it can’t get here soon enough.  GO CUBS GO!!!
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Mets 7 – Hoffpauir 5

Dailies

Final score: Mets 7, Cubs 6.  Will any of what occurred in the past four days matter come October?  Who are the Cubs going to play in the NLDS?  This race has been so entertaining, I don’t even want to be able to know the answer to that until after all the games end on Sunday.

Mets are hanging in there…Marlins are up next for them and they are no slouch.  Then again, they’re no Cubs either.  
3 games left.  Mets are behind the Phillies by 1 game in the East and tied with the Brewers for the Wild Card.  Again, tied for the Wild Card…three games left.
This is one of the greatest playoff positioning battles I’ve ever seen going into the final weekend of a season.  All three teams battling to get in to the final two spots in the NL are playing at home this weekend…each with varying degrees of difficulty in their opponents.  Mets get the Marlins, again no slouch.  Phillies get the Nationals…somebody from Philly organize this year’s schedule in case it came down to the wire again like last year?  I mean, the Nationals??? Come on.  The Nationals may surprise people every now and again but let’s face it, if I’m the Brewers…I am not happy about this situation one bit.
Sure I’m at home…on the same field the Cubs borrowed and threw their nearly perfect, first no-hitter in club history in over forever ago.  Facing the team with the best record in the National League…who will show up as the away team…yet playing in a stadium often considered Wrigley North.
Forget Houston being rescheduled to play home games in Milwaukee…this hardly seems fair.
So here the Cubs are.  Already captured the NL Central, earlier than they ever have.  Best record in the National League, home field advantage through the NLCS (if they make it that far).  And as if that weren’t enough…they now get the added bonus of possibly playing spoiler for the Brewers.  
Wow.
The Mets were great this week.  If it wasn’t for their bullpen blowing leads, they may have faired better.  Considering we weren’t going full lineup in every game gives me very little concern about the Cubs in looking at these past four games.  Although I suppose Zambrano does raise some concern.  He didn’t look so hot on Wednesday and of course the start before that he got ROCKED.  Nobody is going to care about Z’s no-hitter come October, especially anyone in an opposing team uniform.  Dempster’s going to kick things off, but we are definitely going to need Z to be closer to no-hit form as opposed to ‘last two starts’ form.  As always with the Cubs, this is about to get (even more) interesting.
I love that we’re in a position to take a look at some guys in figuring out our postseason roster though, a luxury teams like the Mets, Phillies and Brewers don’t have.  Man, what an audition Hoffpauir had tonight!  5 for 5, 5 RBI’s and 2 HR’s.  I was IMPRESSED by him in Spring Training, unfortunately there just weren’t enough roster spots to fit him into for pretty much the entire regular season.  Once we had a chance to call some guys up, Hoffpauir and Pie were the two guys I hoped would get called up.  I expect them both to be on the roster for the NLDS and when called upon, while more so Hoffpauir than Pie, I expect them both to be ready and prove to be contributors in the clutch.
Three more games to the 2008 regular season.  Mets, Phillies and Brewers playing for a division …a wild card…an opportunity.  The Cubs on the other hand…playing in hopes of being champions…contributors…and quite possibly, spoilers.
159 games played.  And yet still, 3 more needed to make sense of it all.  GO CUBS GO!!!
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Advantage: Cubs

Dailies

By beating the Mets in the house the Amazin’s built, the Cubs clinched home field advantage throughout the NLCS.  Now whether they make it that far remains to be seen.  However, with the home field advantage Wrigley has been so far this year for the Cubs…that is definitely more great news this club can enjoy, in addition to repeating as NL Central champs, clinching the division on Saturday against the Cardinals.

Marquis pitched a great game today going deep into the seventh inning and provided the game winning grand slam. I always find it weird to see a pitcher hit a home run, even as a national league fan. Of course, I always welcome it regardless.
 
You can tell its audition season as of late with Pie getting more playing time lately. I admire the fact that Lou is still playing everyone, keeping them ready and trying to built momentum going into the playoffs.  Pie has delivered as of late and I believe he will be a great cog to have if we need him in the postseason.  Before the season I thought he was the next great CF this league may see.  He still could be I suppose, but after watching Edmonds and Johnson take over center this year, it truly shows how much Pie still has left to develop as a player before he contributes at that level on a regular basis.  
 
One thing Fukudome will provide in the postseason for sure is his glove.  He’s a smart fielder and made another nice play tonight against the Mets.  His bat may have cooled off and the NL may have ‘figured him out’, but his glove is one thing you can’t do anything about.  He’ll be a great defensive component if nothing else in the playoffs.
 
I’m glad Lou is keeping Z in his regular spot in the rotation.  After getting hit hard last time out and having such a drastic difference in outcomes in his two appearances after being out for two weeks, Zambrano really needs to be in there on his regular rest.  Everyone else has been shuffled slightly to shape up and prepare our four man rotation for the playoffs.  That four man group of course will feature Zambrano, Lilly, Harden and Dempster.  Four great seasons right there…let’s hope it continues when the calendar flips and we hit October 1.
 
Speaking of which, still not sure who we’ll be playing which is why Lou hasn’t named a Game 1 starter for October 1. I can’t say I like the Cubs’ chances any more or less when it comes to the Mets or Dodgers.  Both teams have been hot and cold as of late, both have big time play makers in their lineups and I feel like their pitching staffs are pretty much equal performance and health-wise at this point, very late in the season.
 
55-26 at home this year.  Best overall record in the National League locked in.  Playoffs start October 1.
 
Advantage: Cubs.  
 
GO CUBS GO!!!
 
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Well, that was different!

Dailies

From this:

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To this:
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5 days ago, brilliant.  Today, horrendous.  Let’s hope it just wasn’t Z’s day today and that it’s not some sign of things to come…some kind of warning sign of the shape Z’s shoulder is headed in when we need him at his best the most.
The Brewers are currently losing.  That’s cool.  Too bad we couldn’t do our part today.  For anyone who didn’t see the game, it was nowhere near as close as the 12-6 final score reads.  No, I know…six runs isn’t close.  
That’s my point.
I couldn’t believe it when half way through the fifth I was pretty sure I’d already seen 3 or 4 Cubs pitchers in the game.  It was just that kind of day.  Soto was out of the lineup too…that can’t be anything serious either, otherwise we could be looking at a situation where injuries prove to be this year’s goat, cat, and Bartman all in one.
Was hoping today was clinching day with Zambrano on the mound.  Didn’t happen.  Definitely disappointed but let’s face it…still have an 8.5 game lead in the Central at this point and tomorrow’s another day.  Brewers lose tonight, it’s back up to nine games and it’s all in our hands tomorrow.  
Still a great situation to be in as far as the division is concerned.  GO CUBS GO!!!
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