Mets 7 – Hoffpauir 5

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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MLB Culture Shock

I haven’t blogged in a bit mainly because I don’t fully understand what is happening in baseball.  How in the world do the Tampa Bay Rays have the highest winning percentage in all of baseball at .610? 

rays pic.pngThey are one loss better than the Cubs, who I suppose would be considered the second best team in the majors accordingly and somehow lead the AL East, 1.5 games in front of the defending W.S Champ Boston Red Sox.  I mean, we’re almost at the All-Star break and it’s amazing.


I don’t know.  There are few things we as fans can control, even with all the predictions and expectations that exist at the beginning of each season.  One thing we can control though, is the starting team of the AL and NL in the All-Star game.  Considering the games now count for a GIANT prize, should this still be?  And if so, are fans truly taking advantage of the opportunity?  I think not.  And why aren’t fans of teams in the NL, for instance, voting for no-names to start for the AL?  I mean, we want to win right?  Home field advantage in the Series is quite the prize right?  

I may add more to this later this evening.  For now though, go Cubs against the Giants…fans need to show up and vote our Cubs into the starting lineup…I’m about to do some more voting for our Cubs…and for some scrubs in the AL.  Couldn’t hurt right?

Go Cubs Go!

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Old Reliable Comes Through Again in Front of Old Faithful

Dempster did it yet again tonight.  Crushed the Sox pushing his record to 9-2, a perfect 9-0 at home.  Lou gave him the chance to go the full nine innings but after a couple got on, including a weak infield single off the third base bag, Howry came in in relief (perhaps a bit of Marmol-aid might be called for after all…what is wrong with Carlos lately?  Even with a great Cubs win and sweep of the weekend series I can’t help but continue to wonder) and put the final few outs away in front of the greatest fans in Chicago, in the greatest ballpark in Chicago, for what is clearly the better team in Chicago.


Every time a Cub came to the plate you expected something exciting to happen after Friday night’s walk-off result.  And of course, it was Ramirez who authored that piece of drama and excitement who was center stage throughout Saturday’s and tonight’s wins against the Sox.  Ramirez went yard yet again this evening wrapping up a killer series this weekend against the crosstown rival Sox giving him a BA of .500 for the weekend series.  One of the best third basemen in the game came through again this evening and it must-see TV every time I knew he’d be up in the next inning.  

Patterson had a great weekend as well and capped off his emergence into the Cubbie Collection of Contributors for this season in meaningful games and situations where key talent has gone down with injuries by stepping up and filling in for Soriano tonight in left and hitting his first major league home run.  The seven runs the Cubs put on the board along with a dominant Dempster made this game especially fun to watch.  

When Dempster was left in by Lou to try and get the complete game, I knew he’d be on a short leash and he was.  But I gain more and more respect for Lou as a manager as the season goes on for moments like this.  The guy simply knows how to manage and get the most out of what he’s given.  As a result, the Cubs sit atop the Central by 4.5 games (Cards lost to the RED Sox earlier this afternoon) and own the best home start at Wrigley that any of us have every seen, including a fourteen game streak of hanging the W flag!  And as if that wasn’t enough…Dempster…14 in a row at home…32-8 to start the season at Wrigley…as if that weren’t enough…next up: the Orioles.  Can’t wait to see what Derosa does against the O’s considering he was rumored to be headed there all winter.  I’d love to see Brian Roberts lay a giant Oriole egg in this upcoming series while Derosa buckles down and tears it up.  Marshall up first Tuesday night looking to fill some giant Zambrano sized cleats.

Do I hear 15 in a row?  

Way to go Cubs!  SWEEP!  SWEEP!  SWEEP!!!

Go Cubs Go!

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4th and 9…Cubs Go For Two!

Oh, this is fun.  Incredible game!  Cubs took the second game of the weekend series against the Sox today with an incredible nine run fourth inning including two home runs by Edmonds, one by Ramirez and one by Fontenot.  And I thought Lilly scored with the bail out Ramirez gave him yesterday with his two shots…that was a scratch off compared to the lottery of runs Marquis scored today.  


I must admit, when I heard Edmonds was a Cub I couldn’t believe it.  Wait, Jim Edmonds??  Former St. Louis Cardinal Jim Edmonds?  The same Jim Edmonds who had produced for the Cardinals time and time again against the Cubs making one of the 2 or 3 Cardinals we least looked forward to seeing at the plate against us in crucial situations?  This is supposed to be good for team morale?  I suppose it made sense at the time.  However, considering he’s hitting over .400 in his last 18 games with the Cubs and blasting huge shots out of Wrigley against the team’s crosstown rival, what’s there to complain about or be confused by now?  I mean fans are bowing to him like they do Fukudome. He continues to perform and produce like Fukudome we may start seeing different headbands worn around the outfield at Wrigley.  Huge day for Edmonds in shedding that Cardinal red and having us get use to him in Cub blue.  Great day today Edmonds, way to go man.

Marquis improved to an incredibly respectable 6-3 on the season and Wood got his 19th save of the year.  Even better news, Zambrano went on the DL to rest his strained shoulder and x-rays show no serious damage.  Two starts missed is fine all things considered and if the rest of the guys continue to step up during his and Soriano’s absence, we’ll look pretty good going into the end of Summer.  And who would have thought that a simple switch of our closer and a starter would make such a difference to this team?  I doubted Wood all Spring…no more.  Keep it up Kerry.  Marmol and Howry have left much to desire lately.  We’re going to need you even more while they get through this rough patch.

Tomorrow night’s game is nationally televised.  Looking forward to seeing them continue this Sox bashing.  And with recent events, I admit…I even kind of look forward to seeing Edmonds.

Go Cubs Go!

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Big Start, Huge Weekend. Big Z, Huge Loss?

What an unbelievable season so far. I honestly think my computer was even so shocked at how well the season is going, it put its self on the DL. Back up and running now though…good times. 


29-8 at home.  3 1/2 games up in the Central.  A bunch of players up for potentially starting in the All-Star game.  Kendall who?  Fukudome’s #1 taking on a whole new meaning with the second major injury to Soriano this season.  This season just keeps getting more and more interesting with Zambrano now experiencing some pain and will miss his next start.  It’s one thing to lose Soriano for 6+ weeks, but losing him and Zambrano?? I don’t know if we can handle that honestly.  Hopefully Zambrano doesn’t miss too much time.  While Dempster is having a great year and the rest of the rotation is holding it’s own, to lose our ace and our leadoff hitter could be too much.  The last thing we need to see is the Cubs in a great place in mid-June and then struggle through the Summer because of injury.  As soon as I saw Soriano get hit by that pitch, my first thought was ‘did that hit him in the face?’  Then I couldn’t believe it ended up being 6 weeks because it broke his hand.  I’m glad he didn’t suffer a serious head injury, but this broken hand…I know I’m harping on the injuries and may be making too much of it, but come on…this isn’t good.

I love Fukudome and think he’ll be great in the leadoff spot but Soriano was finally coming around to having a great season performing like he should up top.  Hitting home runs, getting on base and adding that much needed speed to the lineup that Piniella has mentioned a few times.  In the Spring I thought it was a shame some of the guys I felt were deserving of sticking with the club had to be sent down as there only so many outfield positions to fill but getting them up here like this isn’t what I had in mind.  Edmonds, Johnson, Fukudome and Derosa when necessary.  Edmonds has a foot problem and Johnson is having back spasms.  Maybe being still interested in Coco Crisp isn’t such a bad idea.  Who would we give up for him?  Middle-tier pitching, I guess.

Big weekend this weekend taking on the White Sox.  Both teams lead their respective divisions, first time for interleague play.  The city is going to be locked in all weekend as many experts are saying it could be a preview to the ’08 Series.  That would be crazy.  What’s even crazier though…they were saying the same thing about our series with the Rays.  THE RAYS!  (How do you give up seven runs in one inning to the RAYS?!?  I don’t care how good they are…c’mon Marmol!  It’s Tampa Bay!!!  That certainly couldn’t have been the homecoming Lou was looking for…swept??  Home Sweep Home for Lou unfortunately).

Lilly’s looking strong as of late and he’ll kick off the weekend today against a guy who has never faced the Cubs before.  Let’s hope Danks’ day is as bad as Zambrano’s is good as his shoulder is being looked at today.  We definitely can’t lose Big Z for any extended period of time if we’re going to do this this year.  Just can’t.  That is of course unless…how’s Fukudome’s fastball?

Well, regardless, I suppose when something as serious as your ace’s shoulder could possibly be coming up lame on you, you can always focus on something far less serious yet, nearly as interesting: one of the most interesting articles about the Cubs’ uni’s I’ve ever read. Enjoy the game, enjoy the article.  Beat the Sox…Go Cubs Go!

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Opening Day 2008: Theri0-for-5, Sorian0-for-5 and a Big Day for ‘Dome

marquis welcomes opening day 2008.jpgNot a win.  But definitely an amazing start to the season…at least when it comes to things to talk about.  Of course when you start the season and you’re looking to get out of the gates quickly, it helps to win your first game.  Especially when its against a division rival.  And especially when its the division rival you’re supposed to take down to the wire again this year in determining who wins said division.  

So in that respect, today was a huge let down seeing that the Cubs lost to the Brewers in 10 innings today 4-3.  However, what an unbelievable start to the season. 

It was cold and rainy and miserable yet nobody cared.  Fans were out to support their Cubs, old and new as many turned out to cheer Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks during the unveiling of his statue next to Wrigley before the game.  I can’t wait to see the statue in person.  Its made by the same guy that did the Harry Caray statue and it look incredible.  Henry Aaron was right, it should have been done a long time ago.  I’m glad someone who seems so down to earth and appreciative of all life has given him and all he was able to give back is known as Mr. Cub.  Here is a photo of the statue:
Picture 3.pngTwo tarps had to be taken off before today’s game.  The one on Ernie’s statue and the one on the field.  The field’s new draining system got a real test today as it was raining hard before the game causing a 40 minute delay before the game and another 52 minute delay during the game.  It was amusing to see the groundskeepers using giant squeejee’s to dump the flooded water that did remain on the field into the system.  While there is no longer a crown in the middle of the field, there are so many draining holes, I half expected Bill Murray to show up and give them a hand.
bill murray caddyshack.pngOf course, after nearly a hundred years without a title and months of offseason drama leading up to what should be a very exciting season, what was another 90 minutes of rain delay?!

Once it finally got underway, it was worth the wait to finally get to Opening Day!  Zambrano looked strong before and after the rain delay.  Ernie Banks threw out the ceremonial first pitch and for a bit it looked like they may only get to play two…innings.  After the tarps were pulled for a second time, Zambrano continued to dominate along with Sheets.   If these guys both pitch like this all year, its going to be quite a race for the Central.  Unfortunately, Zambrano went out of the game after hitting the ground and falling awkwardly in the seventh on an infield fly he caught while crashing into Lee.  Marmol came in to relieve him with 2 outs and a 2-2 count.  He successfully got the Cubs out of the inning with one pitch.  Not surprised by that at all seeing that I’d been saying all Spring he should be our closer, not Wood.  (more on that later)

Our bats were pretty pathetic today.  The Cubs were 2-for-31 today without Fukudome who had an incredible debut going 3-for-3 including a double and a three-run blast to tie the game in the ninth.  Fukudome is going to be great for the Cubs this year but we can’t rely on him to carry us and give us a chance to win like this on a regular basis.  The other guys are going to have to step up, especially in the top of the order where Theriot and Soriano were horrible going 0-for-5 each. 

Fukudome was definitely the one true bright spot as far as the offense was concerned today.  It was a blast to watch the response the right field bleacher fans gave him when he came back out to right after tying the game and even more interesting to see how the crowd welcomed him before his first at bat.  This picture to me is hilarious, all the different things I believe the fans think about Fukudome’s arrival wrapped into one photo:
fans looking at fukudome approach first at bat.jpgThe one woman with her jaw dropped in awe.  The guy with his camera ready to go as if there aren’t enough cameras pointed at Fukudome these days.  The guy in front in the red cap looking at him like he’s ‘the one’ and the answer to take us to the promised land.  The guy in the blue cap to the right of him looking absolutely giddy over his presence on the Cubs this year.  And once the moment arrived, he didn’t disappoint.  The first pitch he saw he drove to deep CF.  The ball landed at the base of the wall and Fukudome had himself a stand up double.  The place went crazy…but then seriously, why wouldn’t they?  I did…and especially in the ninth when Lee FINALLY got a hit, Ramirez got on base on a walk and Fukudome hit the shot that people will probably truly remember his debut for.  A three run shot to tie it up and clean up after Wood almost destroyed us in the top of the inning.  Great day Fukudome!  Now, let me rephrase that second to last sentence.

Wood basically did destroy it in the ninth.  I wonder if Lou is questioning his decision…I am (still).  I’m willing to chalk this one up to Opening Day jitters but we surely can’t have any more outings like that from Wood.  Especially against division rivals.  Howry ended up giving up the winning run in the tenth but if it weren’t for Wood’s ninth, we never would’ve seen Howry.  Actually, even that’s not true…it was a mixture of Wood’s collapse and Gagne’s.  Good thing Gagne’s off the HGH!  He looks horrible…not only fundamentally weak and pitching horribly, but like a total slob.  At one point the ump even had to tell him to tuck his jersey in because he looked like such a slob.  And what is he experiencing, menopause??  It’s 40-something degrees outside and he’s fanning himself like its the dead middle of August?!  Something is definitely wrong there and I think it can only mean good things for the Cubs in the long run.

I still think the Cubs have a strong bullpen, however today, the bullpen along with every hitter except Fukudome were the reason we lost.  Piniella wanted a fast start and told them it was important to do so in a very competition division along with all the potential this Cubs team has.  Apparently, they don’t quite understand what he meant by that just yet.  Let’s hope Lilly fares better come Wednesday and the point finally starts to sink in. 

Exciting start to the season..
.let’s start getting some ‘W’s!  Go Cubs Go!
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‘Z’ Day is Finally Here!

OPENING DAY AT WRIGLEY!  FINALLY!
zambrano openind day 2008.pngAbout two hours from now the Chicago Cubs will start their quest of winning the Major League Baseball championship for 2008.  After following every move the team made all offseason closely and watching every Spring Training game available, I couldn’t be more excited, or more ready.  I think Lou has the team ready to go mentally and physically and I think they’ve made all the right decisions with the roster.  Last year’s battle with the Milwaukee Brewers will probably closely resemble this year’s outcome only I believe the Cubs will win the division by five games over the Brewers this time.  Nothing of course makes this more likely then beating them head to head and today is our first shot at ‘em for ’08.

Wrigley is going to be rocking, I just know it.  I can’t wait to hear what people think of the adjustments made to the field and the stadium.  I can’t wait to hear what the players think of it.  I can’t wait to hear the right field bleacher fans’ reaction to Fukudome the first time he takes his place in the outfield wearing number 1, ready to go.  I can’t wait to see if bats that were heating up at the end of Spring continue to do so in the frigid Chicago weather.  I can’t wait to see Zambrano take the mound completely pumped to take the first game in the battle of the Cubs/Brewers and ready to win his first Opening Day.  I can’t wait to see if John Kruk is right about D Lee and that he’s going to be in NL MVP form this year out of the gate and throughout the season.  I can’t wait to see the first ‘W’ flag of the season raised above the scoreboard.  I can’t wait to watch the final out of a game and then see it actually count in the standings.  And I can’t wait to understand how this new blogging format works so I can fully communicate/take advantage of all its functions in enjoying this season with you.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way about an Opening Day before and I’m not sure what exactly is making this one so different.  I’m definitely glad the wait is over though!

Let’s Play Ball…GO CUBS GO!
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