Come on, that’s funny

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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If only…

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

“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:

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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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Not Exactly Seventh Heaven

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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Crunch Time

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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Marmol Aida

I don’t know that it came down from Mitch and Murray, maybe just Hendry…but finally Piniella took a stand and made the switch to Marmol as the Cubs’ closer.  Grabow and Guzman were considered but this round goes to Marmol.  Just like anything else, I’m sure it could play out to a situation by situation component of the Cubs pitching staff.  Lou was quoted as saying that Grabow and Guzman will get opportunities to close games as well and that there is no timetable for how long Marmol closes. 

But now what.  How will Marmol respond?  Will he step up and be the guy I’ve seen him as in the closer role in my mind?  Or will he let the pressure go to his head as he’s had some mental toughness issues this year?  29 opportunities and six blown saves by Gregg.  Finally Lou admitted it was time to go after these close ballgames different and secure some tough wins as opposed to constantly sweating tough losses.  The Cards are real strong right now and are considering bringing on Smoltz.  Out of the bullpen that will only make them stronger.  Why the Cubs didn’t make another pitching move to bolster their own pitching (you can never have enough) I don’t know.  At least if the pieces don’t change, we can rearrange and maybe finally figure out how to successfully put his puzzle together.

It’s good too to hear Lou admit they’ve been headed in the wrong direction with Gregg.  A lot of admittance going on in the Cubs clubhouse with Lou speaking up and Z finally admitting that perhaps he’s not exactly the spokesperson for 7 minute abs.  Now if only we can get him to admit he’s not paid to hit home runs during batting practice.  That would be a real accomplishment.

I actually thought we were in decent shape last night until we were defeated by of all things, an inside the park home run.  Is there any other way to lose a ball game that we haven’t seen already this year?  Have we seen them all?  Anyone else notice that whomever is at the plate, whichever team it may be, always scores or does something positive when MLB Network checks in on a game?  It says it’s live, but I feel like any time I’ve seen them check in on a game, like last night’s Cubs game for instance…they score.  I was watching MLB and they checked in on the Cubs game.  Soriano was up, Cubs down 3-2.  And it kind of took the drama away because I just knew they were going to tie it up with the way the check-in’s work.  Sure enough, bloop single by Soriano, RBI, tie game.  Just saying…anyone else notice this?

Good to see Dempster putting up 10 K’s.  Would be better to see him get the W as well.  A lot of that of course comes down to the bullpen taking better care of leads.  Let’s hope Marmol and the newly organized bullpen do just that.  Second place may be a set of steak knives, but as Gregg found out…third place is you’re fired. 

On a more amusing note…I’ve never been to San Diego.  However, if ever there were a time I wished I was, it would be seeing Piniella get stopped for jaywalking.  How he restrained himself from firing his hat down and kicking dirt on the traffic cops shoes would have been a hilarious sight to see.

Harden up tonight.  Here’s to him getting over the .500 mark.  Go Cubs Go!

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Harden’d Criminals

Cubs give up practically nothing and in return they steal away a great pitcher to add to their collection.  I like Murton and I liked what Patterson was starting to show…but hey, this is Harden and in response to the Brewers getting Sabathia…Harden sounds good to me.  Just come in and look around Harden and you’ll see plenty of great examples of how we do things here with the Cubs.  Seven All-Stars (ultimately eight when Marmol was voted in as a replacement), three voted to be starters…two starting pitchers voted in and our closer as well…the veterans are leading the way and the rookies are standing out as some of the best in the game as well: Fukudome and Soto headed to the big showcase in the Bronx as starters…a lot to be proud of right now as a Cubs fan.  

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And if you want to see what we expect out of our pitchers, take a look at Dempster, Wood and Zambrano.  All of them leading the way in what’s been an amazing season so far, including Zambrano’s gem this evening.  8 innings, 1 hit, 1 run, 5 strike outs.  If we weren’t being so careful with him, he would’ve finished the game.  He’s truly the ace of the team and is even getting things going with the bat adding a single to his resume tonight and is hitting over .350 on the season.  
Some of the Cubs’ players were joking about Big Z participating in the HR Derby…why not?  He’s doing everything else for us lately, why not give the derby a shot too?  Too bad Ramirez isn’t up for it, I think he’d destroy.

Rounding the first half of the season out on a strong note…nothing to complain about there.  Go Cubs Go!

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