I’ll bet it ALL on the Cubs. The book.

Dailies

Regular readers of Prose and Ivy know I’ve been emotionally invested in the ups and downs of Chicago Cubs baseball for years.  I’ve been writing this blog for a couple of years now and writing about sports in general since I would cut out pictures from the sports section and tape it to construction paper which I would type up imaginary sports articles on when I was little.  I’ve written reviews and articles for MLB.com/Entertainment and the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  I’ve written and produced television shows for Fox Reality, A&E, Travel Channel and Showtime.  I’ve performed stand up for over 12 years, shot pilots for shows I’ve created and written comedy for Comedy Central.  It’s all been a blast and I look forward to doing more when the opportunities present themselves.  Unfortunately, today’s economy has made these opportunities few and far between lately and like many, I am displaced working day jobs needed to pay the bills but not necessarily in situations classified as ‘ideal’.  When it comes right down to it, all in all, I love writing and I love baseball. The ultimate dream for me would be writing an entertaining, timeless classic account of being a fan of the Chicago Cubs.

But how do you write about the Cubs and take it in a direction that hasn’t been covered before?  There are countless books about Wrigley Field. (Not literally countless).  There are endless books about the best Cubs players by the numbers (not literally endless) and a ton of books about individual Cub personalities or listing interesting factoids about your favorite Cubs players/organization of all time (not literally a ton, I don’t believe).

The question: How do you write an engaging, entertaining, timeless book about being a Cubs fan and the greatest organization in baseball without blending in and reiterating everything that’s been said in Cubs based books previously published?  What could I write that is unlike any book sitting on the baseball shelf at your local bookstore today?

Today, I believe I’ve figured it out.

I had a thought today about raising the stakes for myself as a fan and having the outcome of the 2010 Chicago Cubs baseball season actually effect my life, win or lose.  That thought?

“What would happen if I bet it all on the Cubs?”

Here is the pitch:  I write a book about my experience as a fan of the Chicago Cubs during the 2010 season.  The twist, I am the one fan in the world with more at stake than the players themselves.  While the athletes may have incentive based contracts, those incentives are simply bonuses on top of their salaries.  Come the end of the day, they get paid something (a very large something at that) no matter whether they win, or lose.

The deal: my entire advance and residuals for the book are at stake.  If the Cubs win it all in 2010, I get paid.  If they don’t…I don’t.  Simple as that.

Aside from your actual ‘life’ itself, there are no higher stakes one could gamble than the quality of your life itself.  I’ll have more riding on the 2010 Chicago Cubs season than any other fan out there.  More than any player, coach or manager.  Players, coaches and managers get paid, do or die.  I won’t have that luxury.

Every decision Hendry makes behind the scenes will directly effect my life come the end of the season.  I will share my thoughts on every move he makes throughout the year.  I’ll follow the team during Spring Training, recap each game and keep an eye on the players that will determine my fate including a visit to Spring Training to see the team perform in person.

During the regular season I will travel to Chicago from New York to see the Cubs play in person.  When the team visits the East Coast, I will get tickets and check out the team’s performance at each Northeast stadium they visit.  It will be the Cubs roster that decides whether I get paid for a passion project and make my dream come true. Wouldn’t you want to evaluate and see them for yourself as much as you possibly could?  Me too!

Also, if Andre Dawson is voted into the Hall of Fame this year, a trip to Cooperstown would definitely be included!  Interviews with other fans regarding the Hawk and being a Cubs fan in general as well as their thoughts on my venture along the way would be hilarious no matter how the team is doing.  What an exciting detail that would be to add to the experience, an honor for the Hawk well earned and much deserved, without a doubt!

Now, I have a wife.  I live in New York City, arguably the most expensive city in the world.  Committing a ton of time to a passion project with no guaranteed financial benefit is not something every wife would be supportive of and I have no idea how she’d react.  Would she get angry?  Would she become as addicted to knowing the in’s and out’s of Cubs baseball as I am?  What would her reaction throughout the season be?  How would I react?  What would it feel like to see the W flag raised with so much at stake?  How would it feel come the All-Star break with the Cubs sitting pretty in first place in this situation?  And what if they’re losing?  What if Bradley wasn’t the problem and the chemistry still isn’t there in 2010?  What if injuries are a problem once again and all of our stars, one year older, are spending even more time on the DL?  What if Hendry makes a bonehead move (in addition to Silva, that is)?  How would it feel to see an error in the field cost me more than just the once in a lifetime opportunity (potentially) to see the Cubs win a title?  What if I had this deal going at the time of ‘The Bartman Game’?  What would that excerpt have been like?

As a social experiment, I will write about my day in and day out experiences rooting for the Cubs, putting complete faith in them to change my life by winning the World Series.  Something the team hasn’t accomplished in over 100 years.

I imagine the stress will be immense.  I picture the frustration with poor play and cold streaks at the plate to be unmatched.  I predict the heartbreak over an injury to be unbearable.  Box scores will be reviewed closer than a Biggest Loser trainer breaks down ingredients and calories for completely invested contestants.  The 2010 season will play out like a fantasy baseball team with results that are unparalleled.

For years people have wondered why, when I refer to my favorite sports teams, I use words like ‘we’ and ‘us’.  ‘How do you benefit if they win?’ they ask.  ‘Don’t say we.  It implies you win as well’, they say.  Well, this would make that comment completely irrelevant and obsolete throughout the 2010 Cubs baseball campaign.  Imagine letting it all ride on arguably professional sports’ least lucky, most cursed team.  If you ask me, that story and experience would be absolutely fascinating.

If there is anyone reading this with the power to make it happen and is at all interested, please email me: proseandivy@cubsmvp.com.  And readers should feel free to leave their thoughts here as well.  I expect some of you to think it’s cool and some of you to think it’s the dumbest proposal they’ve ever heard.  No matter which side is right…I think it would be amazing to be so invested in one season of Chicago Cubs baseball.

2010.  The Chicago Cubs.  World Series Champions.  It could happen.  I mean, someone will win it all next year.  Why not the Cubs?  What would that be like with the ultimate dream at stake?  And that my friends is why I’m willing to bet it all on the Cubs in 2010.

Go Cubs Go!  A safe and happy new year to you all!

The Trade That Ruined Christmas

Dailies

“Whoa….no way!  You ACTUALLY got me an…an iPud?”

“Oh wow, I can’t believe you got me an…HBox?”
“Oh my God, how did you know!?!  I was hoping you’d get me a…a Dwindle?”
That was pretty much what it was like hearing about Hendry’s latest ear behind your ear, lame off-season trick in dealing Milton Bradley….clubhouse morale disaster and overall unproductive knucklehead…for the one and only, difference making, crown jewel, diamond in the rough, what we’ve all been hoping since our final out of ’09…the one name tossed around we’d hoped we’d get in a trade for Bradley….ladies and gentleman…ooh, look under the tree….this one says “To Cubs Fans…Love, Hendry”….open it!  Open it!
“Oh my God, you shouldn’t have!   I can’t believe you got us…you got us Carlos Silva?!?”
You shouldn’t have.
Don’t get me wrong.  I appreciate you not giving me coal or an ugly reindeer sweater, but seriously Hendry.  Seriously, you shouldn’t have.  Carlos Silva?!?!??!!?  Are you kidding me?!  This is the best you can do?  You go all the way to the American League.  All the way to Seattle to find us the perfect gift.  Something that would blow my mind, something I would love and treasure always…and you bring back Carlos Silva?  Are you trying to ruin Christmas?  Because you’ve succeeded.  Way to go.  Why not just trip Grandpa and break his new hip or bring up the one thing that will get everyone riled up and arguing at the dinner table while you’re at it?  Come on Hendry!  THINK!
I understand the Bradley you had wrapped and ready to give us, wasn’t going to make anyone very happy, but you don’t talk about possibly giving a Bradley and then go out and get a Silva in exchange.  That’s just cruel.  Thanks a lot Hendry.  Thanks for nothing.  Thanks for delivering something we already have.  No really, this is perfect.  I’ll just put it over here with the others.  You didn’t happen to get a gift receipt did ya?  I’m sure there’s something else Seattle has that I’d like in exchange.  Oh, no?  No gift receipt huh?  Done deal?  Great.  No, great, GREAT!  I love it.  I don’t hate it at all.  I don’t completely hate the gift that you thought would be so great.  I don’t think you wasted your time completely or given Cubs fans the worst gift ever.  Thanks for taking very little and turning it into nothing.  
Carlos Silva?  CARLOS flippin’ SILVA?!?  It’s like you didn’t even try.  
You know what….go.  Just go.  Put down the nog.  And go.  Merry Christmas.  Hope you enjoy all the money and merchandise profits we all gave you this year while you come in here with your fancy wrapping paper wasted on a used Carlos Silva.  Unbelievable.  
God help us….everyone.  Go Cubs Go!

Baseball Bloggers Alliance Interview

Dailies

About six months or so ago (?) I joined up with a group of other baseball bloggers in an association known as the BBA (Baseball Bloggers Alliance).  It’s a great group of passionate, talented writers who blog about their favorite team and baseball in general.  There are a few members of the group who have blogs dedicated to baseball in general and at least one representative of every team in MLB.  You can check out their website here.

One the features they’ve added to the mix for this off-season is an interview with each of the members of the BBA.  It’s very much like what I do here with Prosecards from Cubs Nation.  Daniel is a guy that runs the group and he conducted an interview with me yesterday…thought I’d share it with you here.  Prose and Ivy as it turns out is blog #14 in order of people joining the BBA (appropriate considering it’s a Cubs blog, don’t you think?).  Check out the site and visit the blogs listed in the roster.  Some really entertaining, informative writing included for everyone to enjoy.  Here is the interview courtesy of the BBA:

 

Ryan
Website: Prose and Ivy
BBA #14

Question 1: How and why did you get into blogging?

My two main interests are comedy and sports. I’ve been writing and performing comedy for over 12 years. I stopped ‘performing’ when it came to organized sports after my senior year of high school (not including intramurals or club sports in college, I suppose). So basically, I never had a real outlet for my ideas/opinions/thoughts on sports.

I love baseball and when I saw the opportunity to have a blog on MLB.com, I jumped at the chance. Thought it would be a fun opportunity to joke, vent, rant, etc when it came to one of my favorite things in life. And then, when they made the site free, even better. : )

Question 2: Do you have any blogging projects planned for the off-season?

Over the off-season I plan on continuing to write and follow the trade rumors and signings as they happen. The moves that effect the Cubs directly, as well as some of the bigger signings that effect the team indirectly. In addition to that, I will continue a key feature on Prose and Ivy where I interview Cubs fans, much in the same nature as you are doing here for BBA members. The feature is called “Prosecards from Cubs Nation” and it’s been a blast getting to know Cubs fans from all over and here about their thoughts and experiences rooting for the Cubs. Will definitely continue that feature right up until Spring Training starts and into the 2010 regular season.

I also have a blog talk radio show where I discuss Cubs baseball and post the shows to Prose and Ivy. I haven’t recorded a show since the season ended, but that is something I’m looking to jump into again and post to the site just after the new year.

Question 3: What’s been your most enjoyable experience as a blogger (particularly well-received post, a high-profile link, a connection you wouldn’t have had otherwise, etc.)?

My most enjoyable experience as a blogger was when I was given the opportunity by MLB.com to review an X-Box game for MLB.com/Entertainment. They were looking for people to review MLB 2K8 and the write-ups would be featured on the site with an official MLB byline. That was all I needed to hear. I let them know I’d like to review the X-Box version of the game if possible and after they said it was a go, I went right out and bought an X-Box. Had the system for about a week, long enough to review the game, but short enough so that Best Buy would believe I had purchased it as a duplicate gift and take it back. Well worth the two trips to Best Buy and the opportunity to be prominently showcased on MLB.com.

Question 4: How did you find out about the BBA and what attracted you to the group?

I can’t remember how I heard about the BBA, however I think I heard about on another blog or was approached by Daniel himself, I can’t remember. The most attractive part of the group is the alliance the blogs share, in that, if you are a fan of a blog on the list, and looking for more quality baseball information…if you look at the list of blogs the BBA members recommend, you will be forwarded on to another blog in the group. It’s great for referring readers along to other BBA blogs and a great place to get quality bloggers together to share ideas regarding how to improve their sites.

Question 5: What do you want to see out of the BBA in the coming year?

BBA representatives on sports talk shows. TV and radio, both. I think that would be an amazing jump for the BBA on networks like ESPN, MLB Network, as well as local sports news shows around the country. Might be a bit far fetched, but we’ve already received recognition on ESPN with one of the Yankees blogs being selected to represent NY (AL) in the covering the playoffs this year from the fans’ perspective. Seemed to me like a great step in the right direction to achieve what I mentioned above.

That and maybe keychains. Yeah, strike that. Definitely keychains.

Question 6: How would you describe the Wrigley Field experience?

I would describe the Wrigley Field experience as incomparable when you see it in person for the first time. If my friend Justin is reading this, that means you can’t compare it to anything. It’s like no other stadium in the big leagues and only Wrigley and Fenway can actually say that, both for unique, distinct reasons. No jumbo-trons showing you the same blooper reels from 1982. An energy of a fan base just chomping at the bit for a championship banner to raise on Opening Day the following season.

Being at Wrigley feels like attending a reunion filled with family members you’ve never met before. People you look forward to spending time with as you know you have a ton in common, whether you know their names or not. Before you know it, you’re having a beer together laughing about shared family stories and happy you had a chance to share that time together at the world’s greatest ballpark. Like favorite cousins by the end of the day related not by blood, but bleeding Cubbie blue (cheesy, but accurate).

The Wrigley Field experience is also kind of like a weird montage from a High School Musical film where when you see it for the first time you wonder, how on Earth do all of these people know the words to that song and why are they all singing it simultaneously? I mean, that doesn’t happen in real life. Does it?

Wrigley’s basically amazing. You see the names on the jerseys like family members you share the same memories about. Sandberg, Banks, Smith, Grace, Lee, Davis, Dawson. A feeling that you’ve shared the ups and downs and simply can’t wait to get to your seat, have something to eat and enjoy watching your favorite baseball club compete day in and day out. It’s possibly the greatest way to spend three hours on any given day, bar none*. (*pun intended. the bars are a bonus. it’s the team and the stadium that makes the day great.)

Question 7: Is it tough not to be fatalistic as a Cub fan, to not just expect something to go wrong?

Yes, but that’s all part of it. At this point, it’s part of being a Cubs fan. You expect the worst which is what will make the day the Cubs win the title that much sweeter. It would mean, finally, something didn’t go wrong. (Then of course, I believe you may cue the action sequences of the film 2012 to follow very closely behind. Pretty much right after ‘Cubs win! Cubs win!’. Consider yourself warned.)

Question 8: How did you become a Cub fan?

I think a lot of people either become a fan of team because their parents rooted for them, their friends rooted for them, or they end up with a favorite player and then the team follows suit. For me, it was Ryne Sandberg. I grew up in Connecticut with no professional baseball team to be found among the up-turned collars and Eastland knots. Most of the games I attended growing up were at Shea Stadium down the turnpike and into Queens so I saw a lot of National League ball. Ryne Sandberg was my favorite player. The Cubs attachment followed soon after and it’s been an interesting ride (to say the least) since it did. As always…Go Cubs Go.

Question 9: Do you enjoy having a MLBlog?

I definitely enjoy having an MLBlog. MLB.com is the go-to place for all things baseball (obviously) and MLBlogs is a great opportunity the league has given the fans. The system gives you the opportunity to add a lot of cool features to personalize it so it really feels like you’ve made it your own. I would highly recommend it. (That and chocolate frosties at Wendys. Those things are awesome.)

Question 10: What’s up with that blog address?

I probably should have just gone with the words prose and ivy in the url, would probably be easier for people to find. But…I didn’t. The url is www.onedayatwrigleyac000000.mlblogs.com. The w’s I had nothing to do with and in a way, I feel they’re a little redundant. We’ve seen what one ‘W’ can do, let alone three. The mlblogs part comes with the territory. The onedayatwrigleyac000000 part was all me. It basically refers to the sign at Wrigley that refers to the Year of our Cubs (the AC “Anno Catuli”) and keeps track of the number of years it’s been since the Cubs won their division, league and the Series. The day the Cubs win it all (including their division that is), the sign would read AC000000 as in Anno Catuli and then zero years since the last division title, league pennant and Series title. Lofty goals for sure, but then again, it’s not all about the seventh inning stretch and Lou throwing a fit now is it. Ask me again when we have more time and I’ll tell you how I came up with the .com.

 

Thanks for reading the interview….how would you have answered some of those questions regarding the Cubs and/or Wrigley Field?  Hope everyone is having a nice holiday season despite the fact that as of now come Christmas morning, Milton Bradley will still be under the tree (and not in a good way).

 

Go Cubs Go! 

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MLB Network 1, Cubs 0

Dailies

So far this off-season the MLB Network has more key free-agent acquistions than the Cubs do. Patience will definitely be a virtue while we wait to find out what last names will be attached to Chicago’s favorite bags of laundry.

Hendry wasn’t able to do anything significant during the Winter Meetings but that doesn’t really surprise me.  The economy is horrible so everyone’s being careful about every move they make and the consequences those moves may have in the long term.  Also, there’s always those couple key free-agents that the dominos don’t get to fall until those pieces land where they may.  In the past couple years guys like Fukudome, Matszuaka and Johan Santana played the role. This year it’s Halladay, Lackey and arguably Bay.  We know that there are certain pieces we can expect to be there come Spring, but there are 266 free agents still out there looking for a new address.  Anything can happen and it’s going to keep the miserably cold winter extremely interesting this year.

Happy to see Miles and Heilman go.  Never was thrilled with Miles being a Cub, he had huge shoes to fill when he was the replacement piece for fan-favorite and capable utility man DeRosa.  Heilman is just a joke.  He came in with promise when he reached the Mets and then went on to contribute to the horrilbe state the Metropolitans have fallen to.  I live in NY and have seen a ton of Mets games and read a ton of Mets headlines.  Heilman is a disaster and we’re a better team without him.

That somewhat, in some round about way brings me to Castillo.  Luis Castillo is playing for the New York Mets.  I’d like to remind everyone of that.  IF a trade actually ends up going through, whether it’s for Bradley straight up or involving as many as twenty-something teams, IF the Cubs end up with Castillo, be disappointed.  This is not the Luis Castillo that played with Florida.  This is an older, slower, less effective Castillo and he will not do much in getting the Cubs to where they need to be.  Again, living in NY has given me plenty of opportunity to see Castillo let down Mets fans from all over and become the hot target of New York boo-birds.  The Mets last won the Series in ’86 and last appeared in it in 2000.  You think the Mets fans’ level of patience brought out a lot of boos and negative press?  Wait until the fans of the Cubs, waiting 100 years and counting in taking home the trophy, get their hands on an inempt second baseman like Castillo.  We’re far better off with the Fontenot-Baker tandem.  I would prefer to upgrade at second if we can, but Castillo is not the guy.

Love Ted Lilly but I’m a little concerned about how long it will take for him to be effective next year coming back from surgery.  I know we have more pressing needs than a back up plan to Lilly, but it would be great to see if Hendry could work out a deal somewhere that brings in a solid starter as insurance.  I like his confidence in the guys we have, but I’d feel more secure in our shot if we had one more quality guy with the experience and numbers to prove he can handle it. Even more so than Gorzelanny or Marshall can offer.

Congratulations to Peter Gammons, look forward to catching you on MLB Network.  Hoping the Cubs give us a few guys to look forward to catching as well.  Go Cubs Go!

A’s for Effort

Dailies

Miles and Fox were traded for not a whole lot to the Oakland A’s.  Good.  SOO happy that we got rid of Miles.  I was never all that thrilled when he came over to begin with and he didn’t deliver any results his entire time (as short lived as it was) in a Cubs uniform.  And Fox, he never got a chance to really contribute on the major league level due to too much talent in front of him.  Basically we’re getting some young cats that MIGHT contribute in the future which is better than having guys that HAVEN’T contributed in the past.

Good bye and good riddance.  I wish them both the best but I don’t expect to see a whole lot more out of them and neither should Oakland.  A’s for effort is about all you’re going to end up with if their time in Oakland is anything like what it was with the Cubs.

Still have Bradley and still lack a great center field talent who might be able to lead off.  First snow fell in New York today. Winter is just beginning.  Lots more to come regarding both baseball moves and unfortunately, snow.

Go Cubs Go!

Happy Thanksgiving

Dailies

All around the country people will be celebrating by preparing food for their family and loved ones on the same thing baseball fans are talking about all over the country.  The Hot Stove.  Let’s hope that our holiday weekend is filled with hot stove results that warm us on the inside and don’t spoil the season.

The Cubs aren’t expected to be big buyers this off-season, although they are expected to have an impact and a serious presence on the trading block.  Would love to see them re-gift Milton Bradley to someone this holiday season.  It was a nice idea coming in from Texas, but you know what, it just doesn’t fit.  I’m sure someone has a headcase right fielder that can potentially deliver numbers but is more likely to get the out count wrong on their wish list.  Perfect candidate for the Cubs to re-gift Bradley.

Bradley is kind of that relative that no one really wants to have at the table but feels like they have to invite because technically, they are legally related.  Like Thanksgiving dinner is Spring Training 2010 and you walk into it hoping ‘you know who’ isn’t there.  Chances are he could be there….but man…how much better would it be if he weren’t there.  Then again, if he’s not there, what will everyone talk about?  Who is everyone supposed to gossip about and blame all of the families problems on?

And what about the hot head you love when they’re there because they are so funny but then again when they get upset they end up trashing the place and making it really awkward to be around.  Let’s call that guy Uncle Carlos.  Fun guy to be around until he loses it over nothing.  Loveable hot-headed Uncle Carlos.

And then there’s that sibling you enjoy being around but the family spoils.  They spend a little too much money on that one person in the family, a little more than they probably should and because of it, everyone else has to sacrifice.  They don’t always show up and contribute to the family the same way others do and yet they are given a lot more than the rest of the group.  You kind of always expect more from them and the family goes nuts when they actually produce. Everyone’s favorite cousin, when he does actually hop to it and do something for others, it’s generally out of left field. Can’t wait until cousin Soriano shows up.

Nothing like the holiday season and something to potentially be excited about on the Hot Stove to celebrate all that we’re thankful for.  If you’d like to add another family stereotype to the hypothetical Cubs Thanksgiving table, please feel free to choose the type of relative and the Cubs player you believe fits the Jell-O mold and include it in the comments section!

Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and that the Cubs’ turkey hangover doesn’t last until the Spring.  Happy Thanksgiving!  Go Cubs Go!

This week’s “Prosecard from Cubs Nation”!

Dailies

One of my favorite new features of 2009 on Prose and Ivy is “Prosecard from Cubs Nation”.  I started doing it late in the season and I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing three die-hard Cubs fans so far and am always interested to hear from more of you Cubs fans interested in being interviewed for the site.  Basically I send you fun questions about the Cubs and you get to tell the world where you’re coming from in Cubs Nation and lay it out the way you see it, from your point of view!

This week’s Prosecard from Cubs Nation is with Chad from Indy.  Chad’s a huge Cubs fan and a loyal reader of Prose and Ivy.  Here is the result of my interview with Chad!
PROSE AND IVY’S “PROSECARDS FROM CUBS NATION”
Prose and Ivy read and Cubs fan featured: Chad Tinsley Tudor

Name:  Chad Tinsley Tudor

Why are the Chicago Cubs your favorite baseball team?
 

I grew up watching the Cubs with my dad in Indianapolis because that was the team he watched. My first memories of the team were when I was seven years old, the 1990 Chicago Cubs. I love everything the team stands for, the history, Wrigley Field, the players, Harry Caray, the Wrigleyville area, the logo, our colors. To me the Cubs = baseball. 

Favorite Cubs memory:

 

So many… Sammy Sosa’s homerun chase in 1998. The 2003 team and the ride they took us on. The 2007 team was so fun to watch (minus the playoffs of course) Watching Ryne Sandberg, Grace, Dunston, Maddux, and The Hawk with Harry calling the games with Stone. The biggest of all would be attending my first game in 2001 at Wrigley. I sat eight rows behind home plate and my all time favorite Cubbie was sitting directly behind me. Ryne Sandberg. It was like a dream. I couldn’t talk for about three innings until he asked me to pass a message to a scout sitting in front of me. He was the nicest guy, and probably the craziest thing to ever happen to me. He signed a ball for me; it’s something I’ll never forget. 

Favorite current Cub:

 

Carlos Zambrano, Derrek Lee & Aramis Ramirez

All-time Favorite Cub:

 

Ryne Sandberg


Your dream starting Chicago Cub line up for 2010 would be?

 

BJ Upton, Hanley Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Geo Soto, Alfonso Soriano, Chase Utley, Kosuke Fukudome, Carlos Zambrano 

That’s a far, far, far, fetched dream. I know. 

How would you celebrate a Cubs championship?


Cry like a baby. Hopefully I’ll be at The Cubby Bear Bar partying all night. 

Most feared opposing batter?

 

Albert Pujols & Adam Dunn

Most feared opposing pitcher?

Carpenter, Wainwright, Lincecum

You can either sing “Take me out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch or call a half inning on WGN.  Which would you rather do and why?


I’d want to sing “Take me out to the Ballgame.” I don’t know what Cubs fan wouldn’t. Lots of pressure though (i.e. Jeff Gordon)

One thing you would change about Wrigley Field?


Nothing. I love everything about it, including the bathrooms nobody seems to like. 

One thing you would change about the game of baseball?


Earlier start times for the playoffs. Lots of kids are not being able to stay up and watch these games. 

You are the Cubs’ dugout Gatorade cooler.  You are able to hand out one restraining order against the Cub of your choice.  Which Cub do you choose and why?

Obviously Carlos Zambrano would be my pick with his anger management history.

The NBA logo is said to be based on Jerry West.  What Chicago Cub silhouette do you think the team would base a similar logo for the team on to represent the franchise?  (Aside from Mr. Cub that is).


I feel like the Harry Caray logo above the pressbox is a good one already even though it’s not much of a silhouette. Maybe a silhouette of a Derrek Lee follow through swing. 

You’re having dinner in the Cubs clubhouse and can invite any four Cubs, living or dead.  Who would you invite and why?


Ryne Sandberg because he’s my all-time favorite. Mark Grace because I heard he was a great guy to sit and have a beer with. Carlos Zambrano because I like his personality, he seems like he would be real fun to hang out with.

 

Last I would pick Ron Santo just to hear the stories he has, I always like listening to him on the radio, even when he’s yelling like a mad man. 

Do you believe the Cubs are cursed?  Yes or no and why?


No. It’s just the way the cookie crumbles. The Red Sox broke their “curse.” It’s not easy to win the whole thing, that’s why it’s so special when teams especially your team does. 

More vital to the Cubs’ success…Getting Soriano back on track?  Getting Soto back on track?  Trading Bradley?  Landing a new leadoff man?

 

More vital is Soriano and Soto back on track, that’s why I kept them on my dream 2010 Cubs roster. Soriano can carry the team for weeks when he gets going and we all know how great Soto was his full rookie year. 

In your opinion, who’s crazier?  Carlos Zambrano or The Real Housewives of Atlanta?


I’ve seen commercials of those housewives and they seem pretty crazy, but based off Carlos’ meltdown in 09, throwing the ball out to the bleachers and assaulting the Gatorade machine… I’m going with El Toro. 

The Cubs have just won the World Series and you have been given the

assignment of writing the lead story, covering this moment in baseball history.  Come up with 5 of the most creative headlines you can to kick off your article:


“FINALLY!!!”

“CUBS WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS!”

“THE CUBS DID IT!!”

“CUBS ARE THE CHAMPS!”

“WE CAN DIE IN PEACE!”

You have 30 seconds to convince Piniella to stay on past 2010, OR to convince Hendry to make Sandberg the manager come 2011. They will listen to you if your argument is convincing enough.  Which one can you make a stronger argument for?


That’s up to Jim… If Lou still has the fire in his belly I’d welcome him back. Ryno is a Hall of Famer taking bus trips with young ball players all over the country. He is paying his dues and doing an excellent job developing the young talent while winning. I’d love to have either; I think it’s a win-win situation for Cubs fans to be in. 

You are the hopeful new owner of the Chicago Cubs.  The last thing standing in the way of the deal getting done is you must decide one thing to change at Wrigley Field.  Have to.  Would you either take away the ivy on the wall, update the scoreboard to an giant HD screen, or change the outer marquee? And…why?

I just couldn’t do it. If I had to like you said, I would somehow attach an HD screen to the old scoreboard. Honestly though… I just couldn’t change this landmark. 

Hypothetically speaking, four Cubs players have career years in 2010.  Which four Cubs players do you think have the most potential to do so next year?

Carlos Zambrano bounces back. I think Kosuke Fukudome has a great year at the plate. Aramis Ramirez is going to have a strong, healthy season. I really think the breakout guy is going to be Carlos Marmol, he’s ready to step up and be the leader in the bullpen.  

You’re hired to run the Cubs 2010 public relations campaign.  You can use any slogan, player, etc that you want to.  What is your advertising campaign/slogan for the 2010 season?

JUST WIN.


#

Thanks to Chad Tinsley Tudor for taking the time to be interviewed for Prose and Ivy.  Love the answer about the dream line up…looks good to me.  And so far not one fan believes the Cubs are cursed.  Interesting.  I think the JUST WIN slogan would resonate with Cubs fans of all generations.  Simple and to the point.  W’s baby.  Need to get those W’s.

Keep an eye out for a potential second installment later this week as I look to pack as much in here this week as I can going into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  Any Cubs fans interested in being interviewed for a future installment of Prosecards from Cubs Nation, please email me at proseandivy@cubsmvp.com and I will send you a list of questions!  Grabow signed to a 2 year deal. New billboards put up behind the left field bleachers. Heilman dealt to the Diamondbacks. Ricketts attending their first owners meetings.  Lots to talk about, email me and let’s talk Cubs baseball!

Go Cubs Go!

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Come on, that’s funny

Dailies

This blog has been featured on the MLB.com home page and on the MLB.com Entertainment page, but never on MLBlogs’ home page.  

That is, until now.  And what is the headline on the post below this one, previously greeting countless potential new readers while I’m featured center stage?
“Not A Whole Lot Going On”.
Catchy, huh?  Makes you want to read more doesn’t it?  Gee, let me click on this new Cubs blog I’ve never read.  It’s featured on the MLBlogs home page, must be fascinating.  Let’s check out the top post here…oh…not a whole lot going on.  Alright then, guess I’ll read something else.
Anyway, thought it was hilarious the timing of my last headline with the being featured and all.  That, plus when I told my dad to pull up MLBlogs.com and check out who is on the front page he said “Cool…Tim Lincecum”.  I said “Below him”.  He misheard me.  Hilarity ensued.  Good times.  
Thanks for featuring Prose and Ivy on the MLBlogs home page MLB and welcome new readers.  Any Cubs fans interested in being interviewed for one of the fan segments, email me at proseandivy@cubsmvp.com
Go Cubs Go!  
(And if we sign Grabow, cool.  If not, cool, but I prefer we keep him.  If we lose Harden, cool, but I know a few female Cubs bloggers that will be very disappointed.  As for Reed….hope there’s a way to keep him in the mix.  Any outfielder not afraid to run smack into a brick wall to record an out for the Cubs is alright by me.  One signing that would be particularly interesting if for nothing other than the secrets of Wrigley Field that could be revealed….Curtis Granderson.  He comes with a bit of baggage and it’s filled with production equipment for a potential new reality show.  At least it wouldn’t involve him decorating cakes in the Cubs dugout).
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Not a Whole Lot Going On

Dailies

Since I last posted, the Ricketts family took over ownership of our beloved Chicago Cubs.  Love their stance on looking at the Cubs from their owner seats the same way they would have if they still owned bleacher seats.  Someone like that will hopefully help convince them to put a little more money into a deal here and there than they may have done otherwise if they didn’t have an emotional attachment to the team.  On the flip side, hopefully they have plenty of people helping them deal with their heads when necessary and not always their hearts.  Need to make sure the deals they make are strategically sound business wise and baseball wise.

I mean think about how fans treat fantasy baseball drafts.  Most of us go after the big names and load our team the best way we can.  Often we take guys we enjoy rooting for and do so on the field in real life and in the fantasy fields.  We can’t have owners wanting the best for our Cubs but not thinking soundly the way we need those running the show to do.  People with a passion for the ball club and dreams of the team finally winning again is a plus and I’m happy we don’t have folks who are only in it for the dollars they can make in the long run.  And if you don’t know much about them, check out this interview with them here conducted by the Chicago Tribune:

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

That said, I think Wells got ripped off and should be the NL ROY.  (See what I mean about making decisions with your heart and not your head?)  Still, Wells had a great year, kept the Cubs in the thick of the NL Central and wild card berth races, longer than they could’ve hoped for without him.  No one expected to need such a contribution from Wells this year but we did.  With his help, we hung in there through the middle of September and kept things interesting.  Interesting doesn’t win you hardware though.  Numbers and results do.  That right there is the problem.  

Zambrano won the Silver Slugger award once again, but really, who is his competition?  Any other pitchers out there looking to go deep during BP?  I think not.  Zambrano can enjoy making more room on a mantle for all of his silver bats.  We need him to start a new wing for some pitching awards if we’re going to end up on top any time soon.
Bradley is still a Cub and I’m not sure how much longer that will remain as such.  If we can’t move him, I think he’ll be a sore spot on a team with a lot of potential once again and we can’t have that.  I think his numbers would be better but his head and mouth would remain the same.  My guess anyway.  And we can’t have that.  Have to trade him and see what we can get.  And Granderson?  I guess that’s cool, but I don’t know, it doesn’t really get my blogging juices flowing.  
Anyone else excited or upset about anything going on with the Cubs since the World Series ended?  Excited about any free-agent filings?  Have a Cubs holiday shopping list you’d like to share?  Does it involve Holliday?  Please feel free to share.  With Halloween over, Thanksgiving on it’s way….winter meetings will be here before you know it.  ‘Tis the season.
(Oh yeah…and ex-Cub Sammy Sosa’s getting lighter.  Ok.  I guess there have been some things going on).
Go Cubs Go!
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Another Installment of “Prosecards from Cubs Nation”

Dailies

Cubs fans all over are counting down the days until Spring Training kicks off in 2010.  Until then, I’m going to try and interview as many as I can and post the interviews here, on Prose and Ivy.

Today’s Prosecard comes from Dave M. in Chicago, IL.  Dave is a huge Cubs fan and can be found on Twitter at @dat_cubfan_dave.  Dat Cub Fan Dave took some time out of his busy Friday afternoon and answered the following questions.  And really, what says I’m a Cubs fan more than taking the afternoon off and enjoying yourself some Cubs baseball?  
Here now is @dat_cubfan_dave’s “Prosecard from Cubs Nation” on Prose and Ivy:
PROSE AND IVY’S “PROSECARDS FROM CUBS NATION”
Prose and Ivy reader and Cubs fan showcased: Dave M.

dave m cub gnome prosecard pic.png

Name:  Dave M. (Note: Dave M.’s lawn gnome pictured above, not Dave M.)


Why are the Cubs your favorite team?

Well, like many Cubs fans, it’s genetic. My Mom told me once that she used
to listen to Cubs games on the radio with her grandfather (that would be my
great-grandfather for those of you keeping score at home). So I like to
refer to myself as a fourth generation Cubs fan. And, growing up, my Mom
always had Cubs games on TV during the summer so, again, like many others,
WGN played a huge role in my Cubs fandom. I used to get so excited watching
the games that I couldn’t even finish watching them – I’d have to run out to
the garage, grab my glove and a tennis ball, and spend the remainder of the
game bouncing the ball off our garage, pretending I was a Cubs player (or
actually the whole team, come to think of it). Seeing as how this was the
mid- to late-70s, I wasn’t exactly missing out on too many
championship-level teams.

Favorite Cubs memory:

It’s hard to pick just one. Maybe walking into Wrigley Field for the first
time as a kid. Seeing the brilliantly green grass and legendary ivy explode
before my eyes as I reached that top step…wow…there’s nothing like it.
More recently, it might be watching Jim Edmonds catch the final out in the
division-clinching game last year. I really felt like that team was the One.
They had it all: Something old (Lou), something new (Kosuke), something
borrowed (Edmonds), something blue (er, well, I guess everything was blue).
Fukudome’s Wrigley debut is another favorite. Oh, and Kerry Wood homering in
the ’03 NLCS. For a brief moment, it felt like the magic was back. Sadly, it
was not. As you can see, I could go on.


Favorite current Cub:

Again, it’s hard to choose. I suppose the obvious answer is Derrek Lee.
He’s a player I have enormous respect for, both on and off the field. I was
really, really happy to see him prove all the naysayers wrong this season.
Among the pitchers, I’d probably pick Ryan Dempster. I’ve happened to attend
one of his starts in each of the last two years and he’s won both games. He
may not be the best pitcher in terms of stuff or results, but I appreciate
all he’s done for the Cubs since he arrived here. (And, yeah, I know he’s
getting paid handsomely for it.) He also seems like a really smart and,
obviously, funny guy – and I admire that. I’ve also always been a big Sean
Marshall fan, too. Not sure why – maybe it’s because I watched his debut in
’06 vs. the Cards on TV and was really rooting for him. Like Demp, he’s a
guy who’s gone out and done whatever the team has asked in a really gutsy
way. I’d also like to give a shout-out to Randy Wells, who was among the
brightest of bright spots in a very frustrating ’09 season. Ted Lilly is a
total badass. He scares me – in a good way. Big Z is the man…I actually
had a dream I was hanging out with him the other night. Seriously. Once
again, as you can see, I’m not very good at picking only one favorite.

Favorite all-time Cub:

Well, growing up, my favorite Cub was Bill Madlock. So maybe I’ll just
stick with that. I suppose I won’t truly know my all-time favorite Cub until
I’m about to take my seat in those Great Bleachers in the Sky.

Your dream starting Chicago Cub line up would be? 


Wow, this answer could take some time. I don’t quite have the energy to take a historical approach. And I tend to break out in hives when people put together their “fantasy” lineups of what the Cubs could look like next season. TRADE FOR ADAM LIND!!! GET HALLADAY!!! How ’bout dreaming somewhat realistically regarding next season: 

1. Kosuke Fukudome RF 
2. Jeff Baker 2B 
3. Derrek Lee 1B 
4. Aramis Ramirez 3B 
5. Alfonso Soriano LF 
6. Geovany Soto C 
7. Mike Cameron CF 
8. Ryan Theriot SS 
9. Pitcher. 

Dang, that’s really right-handed but, hey, it’s all I’ve got at the moment. I think Cameron, signed to a one- or two-year deal, would be a good stopgap centerfielder for the time being. This Milton Bradley thing could really go any number of ways and it’s hard to know what the team will end up looking like until it’s resolved. For the time being, I’m focusing on centerfielders, because I think Kosuke’s defense is a big plus in right field.

How would you celebrate a Cubs championship?

Ha, any way I could. I don’t get to watch too many of the games socially,
so I’d probably be alone when it happened – jumping up and down, screaming
silently (to not wake up my wife and daughter) and scaring the hell out of
our cats.


Most feared opposing batter?

Well, the obvious answer is Albert Pujols, isn’t it? But there’s a really
easy way to lessen that fear: Don’t pitch to him! It drove me crazy how
often the Cubs did that with an open base this season. Joe Torre had the
right idea in the NLDS. Let’s see, who else? The Diamondbacks’ Chris Young
is an awful hitter who always seems to put one in the seats vs. the Cubs. I
have a feeling the Reds’ Joey Votto is going to be a thorn in our side for
some time. On the bright side, I have to believe the Astros’ Carlos Lee is
nearing retirement. Let’s see, what other egregious Cubs killers can I throw
in here? Prince Fielder: Monster. I wish the Brewers would trade him to the
AL for some pitching and get it over with. I’m not exactly thrilled when
googly-eyed Ryan Braun comes to the plate either. I think that about covers
the division. Oh, wait…I forgot the Pirates. Um, yeah, Andrew McCutchen –
toolsy!


Most feared opposing pitcher?

Oh, that’s easy. Doug freakin’ Davis. Basically, any pitcher that throws in
slow motion is going to shut us down. Dan Haren, check. Jamie Moyer, check.
On a more serious note, Tim Lincecum is probably my favorite non-Cubs
pitcher. He’s a lot of fun to watch – not against the Cubs, of course,
though I feel like they handled him pretty well this year. If I recall
correctly, we almost won the game he pitched at Wrigley and then Big Z
outpitched him in San Fran at season’s end. That was a great game. And then
naturally you have the two-headed monster at the top of the Cardinals
rotation now. On the bright side, I do think Jim Hendry deserves some credit
for putting together some decent starting staffs since the Great Rotation
Collapse of ’06. (Where have you gone, Juan Mateo?)


You can either sing “Take me out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning
stretch or call a half inning on WGN.  Which would you rather do and why?

I’ll take the singing gig, thanks. I’ll leave the game-calling to the pros,
though I wouldn’t mind tossing in the odd Santo-esque “Geez!” and “Yes,
sir!” if I could.

One thing you would change about Wrigley Field?

Hm, I dunno…move it closer to where I live? I do know it needs upgrades.
I’m going to say they need to get that Triangle Building thing done. As a
fan attending a game for three or four hours, I can live with some of the
antiquated aspects of Wrigley. I’d rather the  players have decent batting
cages and the front office have the facilities they need to work
effectively, expand the scouting department, and put together well-rounded,
consistently competitive baseball teams.


One thing you would change about the game of baseball?

Well, to make a topical reference, I think I’m in favor of expanding
instant replay to some limited extent. I understand the concerns about
drawing out the games, but I think there’s got to be some middle ground
between reviewing every strike call and dribbler down the line and the
current “home runs only” policy. One interesting idea I read was giving each
team a limited number of “replay calls” a game and then letting managers
factor it into their game strategy. Honestly, even if expanded, I don’t
think instant replay would come up all that often. But when I see some of
these calls being made in the playoffs…sheesh…something needs to be
done.


You’re having dinner in the Cubs clubhouse and can invite any four Cubs,
living or dead.  Who would you invite and why?

Well, the site of Rogers Hornsby’s shambling corpse sidling up to the
dinner table might put me off my salad, but I’ll play along. Um, how ’bout
two of each: Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano on the breathing side and
Orval Overall (because I like his name) and Ken Hubbs (because his is such a
tragic story- in a rock star kinda way).

Do you believe the Cubs are cursed?  Yes or no and why?

No, I do not think the Cubs are cursed. And let me just go on record as
saying we Cubs fans could do ourselves a big favor by ignoring this topic to
fullest extent possible. A curse is a shallow, superstitious excuse for
what’s gone wrong with this team over the decades. If this team marshalls
its considerable financial resources; puts savvy, 21st century management
and scouting in place; and starts fielding competitve teams on a regular
basis, a championship will come. I believe that.


More vital to the Cubs’ success…Getting Soriano back on track?  Getting
Soto back on track?  Trading Bradley?  Landing a new leadoff man?

Well, I’ll take the easiest question first: The Cubs don’t need a leadoff
man – especially an overpaid one in his 30s. (Hi, Chone Figgins!) There’s
too much emphasis on speed when looking at leadoff guys. I look at OBP and
PPA (pitches per plate appearance), and Kosuke Fukudome fulfills both those
categories quite nicely. Trading Bradley is probably the first step toward
putting the 2010 team in a position to succeed, if only because he’ll be a
huge distraction if he’s not gone by the time spring training rolls around.
I’m not a Bradley hater – I actually think he’s an immesely talented
baseball player. But his situation has become more of an employment issu
e
than a baseball one. Both sides need to part ways and move on. It’s a shame
because the team could really use his OBP at the top of the lineup (at the
very least). It’s also a shame because he’s worsened the Cubs
already-precarious financial situation. In any case, to answer your
question, getting Soriano back on track is probably the most vital thing. A
team can’t lose that much production from its starting left fielder without
suffering mightily. Geo is important, too, but he’s a catcher – and still a
relatively young player – so it’s a little more reasonable to expect a
little less from him than his glorious rookie season gave us. He still
obviously needs to hit better and stay healthy.

The Cubs have just won the World Series and you have been given the
assignment of writing the lead story, covering this moment in baseball
history.  Come up with 5 of the most creative headlines you can to kick off
your article:

1) CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! 2) Cubs quench century-plus drought 3) HEY
HEY HOLY MACKERAL NO DOUBT ABOUT IT 4) Cubs crush Royals, win World
Series (hey, it could happen), 5) Dewey defeats Truman!

You have 30 seconds to convince Hendry to either keep or trade Milton
Bradley.  He will listen to you if your argument is convincing enough.  What
do you say to him…and if it’s trade…who would you trade him for?

Jimbo, buddy, dude…can we build one of those “Men in Black” laser things
that makes everyone completely forget what they just saw? If so, let’s do it
and obliterate the memories of every Cubs player, coach, fan and media
member and give Milton another shot. What? You never saw “Men in Black”?
Well, that’s a shame…it’s pretty entertaining. Holds up rather well.
Anyway, how’s about blowing in a call to Dombrowski in Detroit and see
whether we can con him into giving us Curtis Granderson. Maybe we could take
Dontrelle Willis contract as well and turn him into a set-up guy. And if
that doesn’t work…hell, I don’t know…just get Rowand from the Giants. He
was a pretty good hitter when he wasn’t playing in a pitcher’s park. And
we’ll probably get a lot of free publicity when he explodes like a
cantaloupe running into the centerfield wall at Wrigley.


You are the hopeful new owner of the Chicago Cubs.  The last thing standing
in the way of the deal getting done is you must decide one thing to change
at Wrigley Field.  Have to.  Would you either take away the ivy on the wall,
update the scoreboard to an giant HD screen, or change the outer marquee?
And…why?

Those are my options? Geez. Um…I guess I’d change the marquee – put it in
a museum somewhere maybe. Or, better yet, my garage. You can’t touch the ivy
and you’d be putting guys out of work by replacing the scoreboard.


You are Steve Bartman.  It is 2003 and you have the opportunity to see the
Cubs play in the postseason at Wrigley Field and potentially close out the
NLCS making your way to the World Series.  However, you are warned that it
is guaranteed that either you will become one of the most hated Cubs fans in
history, OR you will see them make it to their first World Series in
forever. 50-50 shot.  Do you attend the game?

I stay home and listen to Pat and Ron seeing as how I’m going to wear those
stupid-looking headphones anyway.


You’re hired to run the Cubs 2010 public relations campaign.  You can use
any slogan, player, etc that you want to.  What is your advertising
campaign/slogan for the 2010 season?

Your 2010 Chicago Cubs: We’re SO much better than that.


Thanks to Dave M. (@dat_cubfan_dave) for answering the questions and taking a few minutes (blowing off work) to talk Cubs baseball with Prose and Ivy.  If you’d like to be featured in the next Prosecard from Cubs Nation, please email me at proseandivy@cubsmvp.com and I will send you a bunch of questions to answer and feature right here on the site!  GO CUBS GO!

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Big Deal

Dailies

Admittedly, maybe its the lack of Cubs in this years playoffs…but I haven’t seen anything to get excited about.  Normally the playoffs are extremely addictive and I love watching every minute regardless of who is playing.  This year however, I haven’t seen anything to get all that excited about.

I am hoping that it is either going to be an Angels/Dodgers series…my number two choice because then we’d hear fun promos about a freeway series.  Not really fun as much as different which will keep things interesting.  A Yankees/Dodgers series…my first choice because I’d love to see Torre beat the Yankees.  For sports fans it provides the best story lines.  An Angels/Phillies series because I hate the Phillies and wouldn’t mind rooting for them to fall at the door of a back to back championship.  
The only combination I absolutely won’t watch is a Yankees/Phillies series.  I hate both teams with a passion and will find no joy in seeing either finish October successfully.
So, hopefully it’s Torre over the Yankees.  I get to see the Yankees lose and Torre have the last laugh.  The Cubs aren’t in it, so that sounds fun to me.
The film festival was a blast by the way.  I had more people show up to screen my comedy “Quarter Life” than any other film in the festival.  The audience loved it and it was a blast to screen a film I act in, in front of a group of people I’m not blood related to.  The filmmakers had a great time.  We screened over 75 films in four days and I look forward to screening more films next year.  One of those films may be a Cubs film I have in mind.  We’ll see how that goes though over time.
For those with teams still playing in the final four, enjoy.  I can’t wait for the 2010 season to begin.
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Uno!

Dailies

And not in a good “family game night” kind of way either.

Cubs lost to the Giants today and the Rockies defeated the St. Louis Cardinals.  At the start of the day our elimination number was holding strong at three.  After these two events, our elimination number is down to one.  And unless a miracle happens, this will be the last day of the season that I post while we’re still in contention for a playoff spot.
Wells was unsuccessful in his bid for win number 12 as San Francisco proved to be too much for him and held strong at five games out of the wild card spot.  Here now is what the American League and National League wild card standings look like:
wild card as of 9:27.pngUnbelievably the American League is down to only two teams left vying for the final playoff spot.  The rest of the league is out.  National League proved to be a little more competitive this year as five teams are still left competing.  Surprisingly, Atlanta has jumped up to second place, only two and a half games behind the Rockies after their recent six game win streak.  Their elimination number is five so the rest of this week should prove to be interesting for both the Braves and Rockies.  It’s only a matter of time (barring miracles of course) for the rest of the teams listed that are still in contention.
This is why it’s important to kick the season off fast, stay strong and finish strong.  Every game counts when you tally it all up and look at the big picture.  Those one run losses early on may not have seemed like a big deal then.  Now, you’d love to have those turn around into one run wins.  Would make a huge difference.  Play the episode of today’s Prose and Ivy Cubs Blog Talk Radio show I recorded earlier today, listed in the side bar on the right.  My take on Bradley, next year’s line up and rotation, use of the young talent, Fukudome’s worth and what it all means looking at 2010 is discussed on the show.  
Enjoy the talk now and leave a comment or two while we’re technically still in it.  One loss or one Rockies win and our ’09 will officially wrap come the final regular season game.  The rest of the way we play at Wrigley where we are much better than we are on the road.  Maybe that will matter and maybe it won’t.  Unfortunately that’s the stressful and depressing part of losing control of your own destiny.  One to go.  Will it come Tuesday?  Will it come at all?  Hope not.  We’ll see.  On top of playing at home, we’ve got Pittsburgh coming to town.  We know how I feel about Pittsburgh…wish we could play them all 162 games.  The Rockies on the other hand have Monday off as well and then face the Brewers.  Can’t imagine the Brewers would like to do us any favors.  Doesn’t look good.  But again, we’ll see.
Dempster at home against the Pirates on Tuesday.  All we can do is our part and hope for the best.  Go Cubs Go!
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Straight out of Central Casting

Dailies

’07.

’08.
Oh no.  Two years of division titles in the Central for the Cubs and that is where it stops.  Cubs are hot lately but it’s too little, too late if you were hoping for a three-peat.  Cardinals beat the Rockies tonight in the ‘I really don’t want to root for either of these teams Bowl’ and clinched the NL Central.  They had the better season.  Their superstars had the better year.  Their pitchers stepped up and outperformed us.  Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals for taking the Central.
Now we’re looking at the Wild Card.  Granted, we’re looking at it with horrible seats but at least we got tickets.  A few teams are standing in our way of claiming the Wild Card and our down in front chants aren’t doing much in making a difference.  It hasn’t seemed to work in our favor this last month of the season no matter what we do.  It seems any time we pick up a game on the Rockies, so does everyone else.  And if we lose a game, well, they do too.  And the Rockies have pulled a ton of comeback wins out making our late season heroics attempts moot.  We’re not out of it yet and it’s becoming quite the final couple weeks of the season.  Don’t know that I’d use the word ‘wild’ to describe it, but at least the games still mean something anyway.  For three more games that is anyway, possibly less.
Our elimination number is down to 3.  Any combination of Rockies wins and Cub losses that add up to three and we’re done.  These few games against the Giants have been a blast.  I must admit, when I saw Zambrano v. Lincecum as the opposing pitchers the other night, I thought we were toast.  Figures that’s when Z steps up and delivers his best pitching performance since his no-hitter a year ago.  Also figures that while Lee has been on a tear, he just happens to be the guy on base in front of Baker, who just happens to hit a 2 run shot to win a ballgame in the ninth, who just happens to drive in Lee, who just happens to be the victim of an overzealous Guzman celebration, who just happens to hit Lee (not Baker, who actually hit the home run) and who just so happens to injure Lee’s neck while doing so causing him to miss a couple games.  And that my friends is what we call the Chicago Cubs.
I wish this team would continue to play all out while we aren’t mathematically eliminated but it has been nice seeing the young talent shine.  I understand being careful with guys for next year, but since we’re still in it…I guess since we’re still in it, it does bother me a little shutting down guys like Harden and being so careful with Lilly who’s been our star all year on the mound.  And in total contrast, if you’re giving up on the season and looking to next year and giving guys a bit of lighter workload, why are we allowing Dempster to push to try and reach 200 innings?  Who cares if Demp wants to hit 200?  You want to save him and make sure his arm doesn’t throw any unnecessary pitches in 2009 we could use in 2010…then allowing this push to 200 is something I just don’t get.  Gorzellany has been great and the lineups and results have been working in our favor, but really who would’ve thought that’d be the case.  I kind of feel like the organization gave up on the season too soon and have simply been lucky that the make shift line ups have come through the way they have.  
So here we are three games away from elimination.  Let’s just keep playing hard and see where the chips fall.  Central is no longer a possibility…but let’s keep pushing and see if we can somehow make our way down front and capture the wild card.  Never know.  Right Yogi?  
Wells up again tomorrow.  Do your thing Wells and get that W.  Go Cubs Go!

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25 years later

Dailies
One of the most exciting seasons in Cubs history happened 25 years ago and the pinnacle moment of that season happened exactly 25 years ago today.  Happy 25th anniversary ’84 Cubs.  A few videos to celebrate the memory of that exciting Cubs season.  Both are interview clips with Rick Sutcliffe…this first one, man.  Talk about a tough act to follow.

http://espn.go.com/videohub/player/embed.swf

These videos come off of ESPN.com and its great to hear thoughts of that amazing Cubs year from someone smack in the middle of the whirlwind of reasons as to why it all happened the way it did. Something that would be great for Bradley to hear now too…maybe if he hears enough former and current Cubs talk about how lucky he is to be a Cub, maybe it will help him realize what he has if ends up staying or what he had if Hendry finds a taker this off-season.

The domino effect of events that had to happen in 1984, to end the way it did and claim the title that they did is a pretty amazing story. One that almost lets Hendry completely off the hook when it comes to the Bradley signing. I have taken him off the hook completely and feel confident in Hendry making the deals in the off-season to see if it makes the difference in 2010. No one thought the moves the Cubs made would put them over the top and back into the playoffs. But they did. And trades and signings that the organization and fans get excited over, ones that they have high hopes for can just as easily surprise and disappoint. The 1984 Cubs had a young, all-star caliber talent in Ryne Sandberg and a bunch of guys that no one saw coming. It all just kind of fit just right and put the Cubs in the playoffs.

http://espn.go.com/videohub/player/embed.swf

Sure, we all want the Series title…aiming to make the playoffs is never the ultimate goal, simply the first necessary step to get there. But imagine if we were celebrating and enjoying a team like this today. I don’t think any one of us would complain about that. Happy 25th anniversary 1984 Cubs. May you be one highlighted season among those that eventually, hopefully shortly, get us to the ultimate prize. Go Cubs Go!

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Silk City Flick Fest – Ironically, my Cubs film will wait ’til next year

Dailies

Tyler Colvin’s debut last night was pretty smooth, impressive and the future looks bright.  Watching the game right now and working on my film festival.  Don’t generally put things in here outside of Cubs baseball unless I’m really excited about it….this is one of those things.

I am organizing a film festival in my hometown of Manchester, CT for Columbus Day Weekend, Oct 8-11.  A film I’m in is screening and about 75 other films that were submitted are screening as well.  Here is the website for more information here.  The festival is called the Silk City Flick Fest after the silk mills the town is famous for and it’s going to be an amazing feat to pull off. Four days of filmmaker panels, screenings, galas and awards.  Living in New York it’s been tough to contribute as much as I’d like but the people working on it back home have put together quite a lineup.  The schedule is listed on-line and more information is being listed every day.  I’m doing a film on the Cubs for next year’s festival and working out the exact angle I’ll take.  Would want to do something different than what’s been done before.
Here are a couple of trailers to a films that will screen.  The first is A New Wave starring John Krasinski from NBC’s The Office and Lacey Chabert from Mean Girls.  The second is a horror film called Kids Get in Woods…Kids Get Dead.  Brilliant title.  Check out the trailers and if you happen to live in the New England/CT area and are looking for something to do Columbus Day Weekend this year, come check out the festival.  And when you find me, let’s have a beer and put the Cubs ’09 season to bed!  More to come later this evening or tomorrow on the most recent Cub headlines.  Here are the trailers:

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2500872&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

Kids Get Dead – Trailer from Darkstar on Vimeo.

Go Cubs Go!

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Got any change?

Dailies

Hey buddy, got any change?

If you’re a Cubs fan, that’s pretty much what you’re thinking about, hoping for and expecting come this off-season.  And the Cubs have no choice.  Staying put is a recipe for disaster.  Last year they won back to back division titles and made significant moves.  This year their go to guys couldn’t get a hit in the clutch when it mattered most, the starting pitchers had no run support and many turned in sub-par seasons when the organization and fans had hopes and dreams of so much more.  This off-season therefore, should show significant action above and beyond what we saw last winter.

Zambrano has a no-trade clause and apparently he’s not budging.  Ok, fine.  You know what then?  My feeling is that it’s not time to give up on Zambrano, simply time to expect less.  He’s no longer the ace of this staff.  Well, let me rephrase that.  He is the ace of this staff, however not deservingly so.  He’s seen his last consecutive Opening Day start, his last year as the number one guy.  We had guys on this roster this year who performed more like the ace of the staff than Zambrano did, never mind the possibilities of what we may come up with in a trade or a free agent signing elsewhere across the league.  So that’s what needs to be done with Z.  Knock him down a peg.  Bring in a true ace.  The Cards are deep in the ace category which is why they are destroying us this year.  It seems like their entire staff dominated this season, two of their starters vying for the Cy Young award in the NL.  We need a guy with the right stuff literally up his sleeve, and in his head.  A leader.  A true ace.  Move Z down and find that guy.  A rotation where Z is your number 2 or 3 guy instead of your 1 is a huge upgrade right there.

So Z needs a change of spot in the rotation and change of expectations to carry on his shoulders.  Others need a change of location in the lineup.  Soriano isn’t capable of leading off any longer and Piniella has already announced those days are done.  Good.  Move him to the sixth hole where power is more of a commodity.  Where you’re practically a DH expected to field your position only slightly above average.  Come to think of it…why not experiment moving Soriano back to 2B in the Spring?  His knee is clearly a problem.  Covering the hole at second calls for a lot less hustle and grind over the course of 162 than covering a large amount of room in left.  His knee can’t take it and the final games showed that he may not be our guy out there defensively.  Sure he was in pain, but who’s to say that won’t happen again after another long season in left?  Perhaps moving Soriano to the sixth hole to take advantage of his power and to 2B to take advantage of other options in the outfield is the way to go.  Love Sori’s bat potential…his detriment to our defense is too much to have him as our regular LF though.  Sori to the 6 hole and 2B.  Something to consider.

Other guys simply need a change of scenery.  Enter, Milton Bradley.  Or should I say, Exit.  Bradley has been suspended by the Cubs organization for the remainder of the season.  Comments he’s made were determined detrimental to the team and organization and I believe we’ve seen the last of Milton Bradley in a Cubs uniform.  You can’t simply come in with a history of being a problem child, sign a three year deal which pays you 10million a year to play a game for a living, be expected to bring the power left-handed bat the team needs to put them (at least) out of the realm of being swept in the first round of the playoffs…then only produce a .257 AVG, 12 HR and put up 40 RBI.  And then on top of it all, blame everyone but yourself for your poor performance while trashing the organization that gave you a great opportunity in the first place.  Why doesn’t he get what he could potentially be a part of?  Imagine if this team won it all?  He’d get to be a part of the largest celebrated, most talked about sports championship in the history of sports.  And he’d be marked as a huge reason why.  Instead, he limps out of a game, refuses to bat and disgraces his time here in every which way.  I don’t believe Milton Bradley deserves any racist comments that may have been thrown his way by fans.  And I’m not equating taking that kind of abuse to having to read poor stats in the box scores every day…however, I believe Bradley and the fans deserve better.  As far as I can tell, it looks like both may very well get just that.

Mathematically, we’re still in (blah, blah).  However, with reality comes the expectation that our season will end come the final game of the regular season.  The thing that makes these remaining games fun to watch is simply Cubs baseball, rivalries, playing spoiler and watching the young guys get their shot.  Think about how you feel just weeks after the final out is recorded in a Cubs game.  Think about how much you can’t wait for Spring to come around again so that the Cubs are back.  That feeling is right around the corner, so enjoy watching the remaining games while you can.  Sure, it’s not always pretty, but at least it’s there.  And the rivalries…good times.  Who doesn’t love watching Cubs/Brewers, Cubs/Cardinals no matter the time of year?  Those are always entertaining.  I don’t care if all are eliminated, simply fun to root for the Cubs to beat those teams and we got a week of the Brewers coming up.  Let’s go out strong and make a statement to take with us into the winter and into the Spring that we don’t just lay down and die.  The players, management, or the fans.  And let’s enjoy watching the young guns get their shot at the grand stage.  I’m excited about Tyler Colvin coming up.  I can’t wait to see what he may have to contribute as a potential future Cub great.  He’s a coveted Cub prospect, his season is over and now is his time to shine.  Shining in Spring training only means so much.  Shining against division rivals when the games still matter is something else.  Our outfield is depleted.  Our team is hurting and so are our chances of making the playoffs.  So let’s get out there, change our outlook on the ending of this season starting today and enjoy the remaining games and the FEW positive things we have left to root for in ’09 Cubs fans.

I mean really, what’s the alternative?  Cry about it?  Not this year.  Besides…if you cry about the Cubs into the Fall and Winter this year, when will you have time to do so about the ’09 Bears?  Pace yourself.  Expect change.  Enjoy this ’09 team while you can.  Gorzelanny on the mound tonight (see that, change already).  Colvin on the grand stage up from AA ball.  Let’s beat Milwaukee…get that W Gorzelanny!  Go Cubs Go!

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If only…

Dailies

If only Lee didn’t wait so long to turn it on this season.

If only Bradley wasn’t turning out to be what we were warned about as fans.
If only Soriano had a healthy knee.
If only Ramirez spent more time on the field and less time on the DL.
If only Soto hadn’t had the munchies this year.
If only Z was performing like a real ace.
If only Lilly and Wells had more run support.
If only Dempster wasn’t screwed over by a lame offense as well.
If only Reed Johnson hadn’t followed it off his foot.
If only Lou had gone away from Gregg as the closer sooner.
If only we’d kept DeRosa.
If only we had room on the roster for Hoffpauir and/or Fox.
If only Miles wasn’t occupying a spot.
If only the Rockies hadn’t found that hot streak.
If only Pujols didn’t have another killer year (and by killer I mean Cub killer).
If only it wasn’t 11:40pm on the East Coast.  I’d go on and on.  But it is.  And overall, it is, what it is.  All of these things have happened this year and we are where we are.  Incredible win over the Brewers tonight only by far a perfect or strong outing overall.  Zambrano nearly gave up way too much before he left.  Milwaukee couldn’t throw a strike if their life depended on it walking in and hitting people to give up more runs than the Cubs actually earned.  We’ll take it, sure…especially with the Cards losing tonight and the Giants (also fighting for their Wild Card life) on top of the Rockies as I write this…which means…the Cubs could gain ground in the Central and the WC race.  Nothing to complain about there, but still, it is what it is.
Fourteen games left.  Need to keep winning.  St. Louis and Colorado are very strong and are not going down without a fight.  We need to keep winning and let the chips fall where they may.  Soriano had successful surgery today which is great to hear.  We need him ready for the Spring so sooner the better with regards to the surgery.  And of course, Lee needs to keep his hot streak up.  He hit the 100 RBI mark tonight which is incredible that he could have a .300 30+HR and 100RBI season this year considering the way the season started for him.  Love seeing him do well…just need to continue for another 14 games and then we’ll see.
Continues tomorrow against the crew….Harden vs. Looper.  No one has the obvious nod between the two of them as far as I’m concerned.  Do your thing Harden and get that W!  Go Cubs Go!

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Didn’t see that coming

Dailies

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

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

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

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

Dailies

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

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

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Again

Dailies

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

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

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

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

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

Dailies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Not Exactly Seventh Heaven

Dailies

It happened.  We’re seven games back. 

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

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Three Men and a Baby

Dailies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dailies

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

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

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Is This too Matchy-Matchy?

Dailies

YES.

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

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

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

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

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

Dailies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Let the Scoreboard Watching Begin

Dailies

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

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

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

Dailies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What a week!

Dailies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1st bet bet sheet.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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No Coffee for you Gregg

Dailies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Or not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Cubs Go! 

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NEW FEATURE: Prosecards from Cubs Nation!

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

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

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

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

Abracadabra2-2.jpg

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

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

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

Favorite all-time Cub: Ernie Banks

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

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

Most feared opposing batter: Albert Pujols

Most feared opposing pitcher: Tim Lincecum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dailies

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

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

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

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

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

Go Cubs Go!
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Good to See

Dailies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!

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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

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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
5gal_Cooler.jpg
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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