Big Deal

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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Are we there yet? YES!!!

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

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

CUBS BASEBALL IS BACK!!!!

That…is…awesome.

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

Wow…blog puns can really be horrible.

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

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

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