Opening at Home With a W

Incredible game today as we defeated the Brewers 9-5.  Great start to our home schedule and the home crowd was loving the turn around the team showed at home as opposed to the flop our  opening road trip turned into thanks to an ineffective bullpen and non-existent run production.  Starting pitching proved to be a strength today with Dempster’s performance, masterfully handling the Brew Crew, fully taking advantage of the power surge the Cubs offense displayed in  hitting three home runs today at Wrigley.

Good thing we didn’t stop hitting them while they looked like they were going to go down.  We had them on the ropes and kept going after strong with the head shots and body blows.  Good thing.  The Brewers managed to come back into the game, scoring five runs over all and if we hadn’t kept pushing and getting as many runs as we did, this one could’ve easily gone the other way and there would be no singing in Cubville this afternoon.

Mighty Casey…a small word of advice to our Cubs.  Stop waiting for and relying on Might Casey.  The home run is not always going to be there.  Games of multiple home runs certainly won’t always be there.  A large majority of our runs so far this year has come from the long ball and today was the only time we had such an outburst of hits.  This outburst of men on base needs to happen far more often.  How often is Soriano going to have a multi-hit game after all?  He’s so afraid of running into the brick wall (all of a sudden) it seems to be effecting his whole game.  Lou has to find away to put a lineup together that not only features power capability, but also the skill to manufacture runs.  Right now, we look more like the pep squad firing off t-shirts to the masses at an NBA basketball game the way we’re scoring runs with the ball jumping off the bat, as opposed to a team of skilled, strategic baseball players who can be patient at the plate, get their pitches and work their way on base.  Now, of course I’m not complaining about home runs.  It’s just, we need to get on-base more often like we did today, work the bases wisely and rack up the hits working our guys on base around to home.  Jeff Baker, Xavier Nady and Aramis Ramirez all went deep today and we won.  Great.  No complaints.  Since there were guys on base, those home runs counted for more than just solo shots.  But it’s not always going to be that way just as no other game this year has been that way.  Most of the time we are simply going to need well-placed, timely hitting to get the job done.  We have a couple guys that tend to be all or nothing style hitters.  We can’t have our guys 1-8, game in and game out playing that same way as one cohesive offensive unit.  Lou needs to fix this and fix it fast.  Today was a nice change, sure, but we need this more often than not.

Love beating the Brewers and love a win on Opening Day at home.  Hang your ugly pictures on the building for the week.  Discuss putting up a horrendous Toyota sign in left field.  As long as we keep winning, those things are going to get a lot less attention and all anyone will really be talking about is how good it feels to watch our Cubs win game after game and prove to be true contenders in 2010.
Dempster was really good today.  Let’s hope that continues with his next outing.  You fans with tickets to tomorrow’s game, get your singing voices ready.  I’m hoping you’ll have a chance to showcase them like today’s crowd did after a great Opening Day performance by the Cubs.
Go Cubs Go!
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Ugly, On the Field and On the Stadium

I’m all for the organization taking pride in both its history and its current line up, as well as it’s devoted fans.  However, this is simply a good idea, terribly executed.  Have a look at the new additions to Wrigley for Opening Day.  Happy to say, they won’t be staying: check it out.

Go Cubs Go!

 

2010: New Beginnings and Opening Day with carLos

The Cubs kicked off the 2010 regular season today and Atlanta brought out the big guns right away.  Out came Atlanta baseball legend, Bobby Cox.  Introduced was MLB Hall of Famer and home run king (just like the same way you still call former Presidents, Mr. President even after their term/s are over) Henry Aaron.  And then after the Cubs looked like they may set the table for Zambrano and friends to jump out to a quick start, Atlanta introduced baseball fans to the newest addition to the highlight reel, Jason Heyward with a three run blast to tie the game in his first major league at-bat, as a result of his first Major League swing.

Zambrano was clearly off his game surrendering 8 runs in 1 1/3 innings, the Cubs recorded two errors, used seven pitchers in total and were dominated by a tough Atlanta team, 16-5.  Today’s Opening Day was simply a case of the Braves being the better team in all areas, all day long.  (Although, Z doesn’t fare too well on Opening Day.  Might be time to hand the ball to someone else??)

A bright start to the game was the three runs right away in the first inning.  Nice to see us jump on an opponent quick and not wait until late in the game to make up ground for a change.  Also, nice to see Byrd, the Cubs’ newest addition, put up three runs on a huge blast scoring his first home run in a Cubs uniform.  Welcome to Chicago Mr. Marlon Byrd.

We’re going to enjoy an off-day tomorrow, hopefully put this one out of our mind and come back strong in game two against Atlanta on Wednesday.  Cards, Pirates both won and the Brewers suffered a notch in the loss column in their opener as well.  I expect 2010 is going to be a thrill ride and we are just getting started.  To new beginnings, a new season and new possibilities.  Let’s get a W in game two!

Also related to new beginnings, I moved into a new apartment a few days ago hence the slight slowdown in posts (I HATE PACKING AND MOVING).  The new place is a great find and the extra space is going to be needed big time.  Why?

(this part of the post was written nearly three months ago, only I was waiting to include the news on my blog):

I think I know what video game characters feel like when they stand there waiting for you to make a move and tell them what to do next.  You know that look when the character you control through an alternate universe just stands there tapping their foot, or just simply breathing with no mind of their own as to whether they run, walk, shoot, jump, etc.  I feel like I am just living a blank stare waiting for someone to snap me out of it and tell me what to do next.

Why?

Because of this:

OH.  MY.  GOD.  My wife is preggers.

According to the first test she took this morning:

It was kind of like, “wellllll, I guess you’re KIND OF pregnant….maybe?”  The one solid line you see is the control line.  That line is apparently always there.  Then, after you take the test, if you’re pregnant, the second line shows up.  Well, as you can see there, it is so faint it was hard to tell if it knew what it was talking about.  I couldn’t take it.  We had to get a second opinion.  I’m going to freak out over a device that can’t tell me for sure whether there is a player to be added to this team to be named later?!?!?!?  No.  So, we went out and got another.  The pregnancy test for dummies as my wife puts it.  Much like a contestant on a Bravo clothing line competition, it’s either yes or no from the expert panel.  Pregnant or Not Pregnant.  Our only choices.  No kind of’s.  No maybe’s.  No, ‘ask again later’ (I’m kidding, my wife didn’t pee on a magic eight ball).

And now here I am totally out of my head.  If this test is correct and the doctors confirm it as such this week when my wife, Sasha, goes in for a blood test, then we’re looking at a due date of sometime in October.  Right smack in the middle of the World Series.  Talk about overwhelming.  What if the Cubs are in the World Series and all of this is taking place?  Isn’t having the Cubs in the World Series enough to worry about?!?  And now potentially the Cubs in the Series PLUS our first kid!??!

And, oh man.  What if my book idea actually becomes reality.  What if I’ve put potential financial income on the line that could benefit not only my wife, but my kid too!?!?  The stakes just got a lot higher for sure.  The first test was totally nonchalant about it and the second was a glaring YES, YOU ARE PREGNANT!   If this season puts that much at stake with every ball, strike, walk, out, win, loss, injury, trade, W and L flag raised at Wrigley…my goodness.  An intense season of Cubs baseball like never before.

(Regular readers of this blog know exactly what I’m talking about regarding the book.  If you’re a first timer, here is the book pitch I put out there about five weeks ago.  An absolute passion project that I believe would be an amazing account of one Cubs fan’s take on experiencing the ultimate season of lovable-loser Chicago Cubs baseball with more at stake for me than for any of the players, managers, coaches, owners, etc.

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.)

I thought the stakes were high five weeks ago.

“Pregnant”.  Yikes.  Go Cubs Go! 

And as an update, of course, yes, it was all confirmed and we are just out of the first trimester.  Expected due date is in October.  Wouldn’t a Cubs World Series appearance be the perfect way to kick off your first few weeks in life?  Hard to argue with.  Looks like the Cubs may need some convincing.  Let’s hope Z comes back strong and we move forward with a W against the Braves in game two on Wednesday!

Go Cubs Go!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Play Ball…GO CUBS GO!
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Welcome to Prose and Ivy! Opening Day: TOMORROW!

With the MLBlogs update happening a couple days ago, I just wanted to welcome any new readers and let previous readers know that I will be trying to get all of the features I had on this blog before…up and running here once again.  A lot of categories are listed to the right that need to be reproduced due to the system changes and I will look to have them there asap.  Until then, enjoy the postings, I look forward to hearing your comments on any/all of it and thanks for checking out Prose and Ivy!  Monday is the day we’ve been waiting for…Zambrano and the Cubs against the Brewers…OPENING DAY for the Cubs, 2008! Excited about the line up, digging the decision to put Pignatiello on the roster and send Marshall to AAA and I feel really good about our rotation and bullpen. Matt Murton’s great but I’m looking forward to seeing Johnson get in the mix this year along with the outfield platoon of Soriano, Pie, and Fukudome! 2008 is already sizing up to be an unbelievable year and there hasn’t even been one pitch thrown in a Cubs game that counts. Awesome. Let’s follow up last year’s success with an even deeper trip through October! Go Cubs Go! First pitch less than 19 hours away!!!
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