New Beginnings

Recent post on my Twitter page:

Good thing about the Giants win last night? The Cubs are once again in the running to win the World Series.
Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on winning the 2010 World Series.  Not many paid attention to the Series in comparison to other years but it does nothing to dampen the thrill of victory for the Giants or their fans, I’m sure.  A series, filled with pitchers with excellent resumes and two teams who would be providing a first if they were to take home the trophy, this one was something more fans should have enjoyed despite the lack of usual headliners.  Seeing as the All-Star game proves to be a very difficult thing for the NL to win year in and year out, it’s nice to have the championship trophy reside with a National League team.  Hopefully, next time it finds it’s way to the North Side.
And isn’t that the best part of the season ending?  YOUR team has a shot yet again at winning it all.  As soon as the ‘E’ is posted next to your team’s city in the standings, the rest of the season is for every reason OTHER than winning the World Series.  All valuable in their own way, however none worth as much as winning it all.  Once the season ends, the playoffs run their course and the final out of the Series is recorded with players dressed in laundry other than that of your favorite players spraying each other in champagne (or ginger ale as it were this season in the Texas locker room) all of a sudden, we’re looking at next year and what moves are necessary to elevate your team to the promised land.  The promised land of course is a bit much as nothing is promised, especially that of a World Championship.  Anyway, it’s a saying, so I said it…the point is, the beauty of the Giants finishing their parade route is that door has closed and a window of opportunity has opened for the Cubs.  Let’s hope the right moves are made so we’re thrilled it’s open.  The wrong ones could make us want to jump out of it.
Mike Quade will be our manager in 2011 and I’m excited at the prospect of what that means in a 162 game sample of what he’s capable of achieving.  There is something to be said about the way he handled young talent like Castro in his benching early on in Quade’s interim tenure and the way the veterans got behind him as a candidate for the one of the most coveted job in all of sports.  Coveted in that, the man the manages the Cubs to the World Series victory the city has been waiting for, for over a century, will be appreciated in a way no other coach or manager would ever be or has ever been in all of sports.
There is also something to be said for the way the organization kept on nearly the entire coaching staff, something I’m sure Quade had a say in.  To me it says that this team believes that with Quade and this particular supporting coaching staff, they have the leadership that can take the Cubs all the way.  At least the best that their money can buy right now and are willing to let ride on the small sample we were privy to at the end of 2010.  As a side question, what happens to Eddie Vedder’s Cub anthem if we do go all the way?  An ‘I Told You So’ remix perhaps?
The belief Hendry and the Ricketts have in this compilation of leadership in the dugout/bullpen and the loyalty the players and organization have displayed towards Quade in the early moments of this off-season makes me proud to be a Cubs fan.  I believe it’s setting a strong tone of all focused on one goal as it needs to be, as early on as possible.  Hopefully the small sample of success demonstrated in the last few days of 2010 translates into greater success with the opportunity to do so in a complete 2011 campaign.
The length of the Quade contract is also wise.  Enough to give Quade a shot but not enough to eliminate other options if it doesn’t work out.  Including I’m sure, giving Ryno a little more time getting experience under his belt in case he were interested in the position once again a few years from now and the Cubs thought he was ready.  Remember, Quade was passed over for the Cubs job once before.  Never say never and nothing is ever impossible when it comes to hires and fires and coming and going in major league baseball.  Makes me want to keep an eye on the length of contracts guys like Girardi sign with the mindset of perhaps the length of the deal they sign may show whether they’re still keeping the Cubs job prospect alive in the back of their minds.
The key lineup devisers and skill coaches are in place.  Now we have holes to fill and hopefully we land players looking to start anew with the Cubs and give themselves and us as fans, lots to cheer for and be excited about.  A starting pitcher, bullpen help, a power hitting first baseman and perhaps a strong utility infielder are all positions the club should be looking to fill this winter (a lot will be said for how the club feels about Hoffpauir and Vitters with their off-season moves).  As per usual, all eyes will be watching the news and reading the sports sites for updates on who may or may not be a Cub in 2011 and those resource outlets won’t disappoint when it comes to rumors and predictions.
The Cubs Convention tickets are on sale now, a great sign that 2010 is over and everyone is looking forward to 2011.  Especially the fans as we’re all ready for the club to land that elusive championship.  Time to start the clock over as winners when it comes to Chicago Cubs baseball.  It’s time to move the AC clock to read AC000000.
Speaking of ‘new beginnings’, on a personal note, my wife gave birth to our first born on Oct 23rd.  Below are a few pictures of our son, Rhys Lewis Maloney, all 9 lbs 6.5 ounces of him.  I’ve already started reading the sports section to him and telling him every story I can think of to assist in his love of baseball.  I can’t wait to enjoy games with him and am already planning our first trip to the ballpark.  Parenthood has already been a trip with a ton of diapers, multiple sentences uttered including the words ‘butt paste’ that I never thought I’d say and even a few occasions where I was unable to beat the clock and was as a result…peed on.  Good times.  Rhys has been a great baby though and it’s been awesome to have some time off to spend with him and my wife for a couple weeks after bringing him home from the hospital.
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To new beginnings.  Go Cubs Go!

Boy, Oh Boy

I still can’t believe the Central is turning into a two team race and it’s the REDS battling the Cards for the division lead.  I felt in the beginning of the year that the Cubs are probably in a position where they are just too brittle and a little too old to really contend.  I picked them to win it all (of course) however deep down I knew it would take something more than a miracle to make it happen.  Sure, adding Castro was exciting and brought the team’s average age down a bit but in the end, he’s part of a team struggling to find a way to make it over the hump and win on a consistent basis along with the Cards and Cincinnati.

We’re not in a very good position looking up at the Reds with our star third baseman changing his batting grip because he’s too hurt to hit the way normally does and has for over a decade now.  It’s not good that that same player is openly speaking to the fact that the entire locker room is filled with guys playing through pain. Look at the calendar.  It’s only June 23rd.  We haven’t even hit the all-star break yet.  We haven’t even made any significant dent in the dog days of Summer.  We’re eight games back, too fragile, too old and too unlucky. Piniella is hoping we hit a streak leading up to the big game.  Why wouldn’t he?  Of course he does.  He’s a winner and he wants to win.  However I don’t see it happening with this squad in 2010.

Piniella recently mentioned the team is 10-16 in one-run games this year when a reporter brought it up.  26 games so far this year that the team was in and yet we fall six games under five hundred in those contests. Intangibles and luck win you one-run games and we are falling short in both cases.

Lilly started the season late and while physically present, has really shown up in the stat or win column the way we need him to.  Chances are Carlos Silva will be the team’s lone representative in the All-Star game on July 13th in Anaheim.  I’ve said it before and will say it again.  Carlos Silva?!?  If he’s the best we’ve got….the guy no one expected much from except to show up to the Cubs like aspirin and help rid us of a headache…then we are in big trouble.

Remember a couple years ago when the NL All-Star team was flooded with Cubs?  I attended the all-star parade that year here in New York and it was awesome to see our favorite Cubbies rolling down the Avenue of the Americas representing the best of the NL and the Cubs team with the most potential since the flip of the new milennium (yes I believe our 2007 and ’08 squads were better than the ’03 team).  Now we’re simply shells of our former potential.  The last names are the same but the guys in those uniforms are simply beyond their true opportunity to win it all.  It’s sad really but without significant moves or a stroke of dumb luck, once again this will not be our year.

This is that weird time of the baseball season where it’s too late to say it’s early and it’s too early to say it’s too late.  However this team needs to dig deep and make things happen quick.  Find a way to get on base and score some runs to support our rotation. Find a way to win one-run ballgames and of course when possible, enjoy being on the right side of a blow out.

Some big series are coming up and lots of baseball left to play, but boy, oh boy…it is time to dig in and start looking like contenders.  Cincy and St. Louis aren’t messing around and aren’t going to wait around for Chicago to get it’s act together.

Almost feels like it’s time to get that Cubbie swagger back that they had a couple years back, basically refusing to lose and just plowing ahead all about winning.  I went to Mets/Tigers tonight and the Mets improved on their home field advantage driving their record at home to 26-10.  They are a team that seems to have figured it out and are simply refusing to lose at home.  You can see a confidence in everything they do.  Winning breeds confidence of course, but I also believe a little bit of confidence or swagger might do the Cubs some good as well.  Going back in a couple weeks to see the Reds when they come to town.  Will be interesting to see one of baseball’s biggest surprise up close and personal.

On a personal note, things have been crazy lately as I’ve been completely baby crazy.  Found out that my wife and I are having a little BOY come October.  A BOY.  So cool.  Can’t wait to take the little guy to Citi Field and experience the great game of baseball.  Of course a trip to Wrigley is on deck as soon as possible too.  Never too early to catch a game at the greatest park in all of baseball.  A wild summer of hoping for playoff baseball and figuring out how this baby stuff is going to work come October.

This Fall is going to be exciting regardless with the little guy on the way…but throw in some playoff baseball and never mind blowing my mind.  My head might explode.   Go Cubs Go!