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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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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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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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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NLDS: Dodgers 2, Cubs 0

Dailies
billgoat.jpg
Oh, come on…not again.  Marmol and Wood pitching innings that hardly matter.  Constant booing raining down at Wrigley.  Sure handed fielders botching plays left and right.  Four errors, tying an LDS record, one contributed by each of our infielders.  Giving up 10 runs in one game.  Going to L.A. down 2-0.  
This is NOT what I had in mind.  Enough of this nonsense, no more goats…time for some heroics.  Go Cubs Go!!!  Get some momentum and bring this thing back to Wrigley!!!

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And So It Is

Dailies

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!!!
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Made Me Think

Dailies

This video sparked the stream of conciousness that follows.  Please watch before reading.

http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/player.swf?mediaId=3610493

Historically, aside from all the wins and losses and eliminations and playoffs and naming of a World Series champion this year…going forward the record books and baseball landscape are going to look a bit different as they are about to lose two of their East coast mainstays, Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium.  One with simply a new building and one with not only a new building but a new name.  Depending on how things go this weekend, as of end of day Sunday, Shea Stadium will cease to exist as the home of the New York Mets.  As a kid who grew up on the East Coast, this is where I’ve seen most of the baseball games I’ve gone to.  When I went to the game the other night I couldn’t help but feel sad that this place was no longer going to exist.  You could tell fans around the ballpark were already thinking about the fact that Shea would no longer be around too. Hard not to with fans taking pictures for their own favorite memory spots inside and outside of the stadium, as well as the organization’s countdown to the final home game.  

There’s a certain vibe that can be felt in a ballpark. Some don’t exactly share the same amount of history as others do.  Either they haven’t been around as long or haven’t had the same amount of successful, memorable seasons as other teams have had in their ballparks.  Wrigley and Fenway will now be the last two remaining stadiums from the OLD days.  They are classics…historical landmarks in the fabric of the baseball society.  With every new cookie-cutter stadium that is built and named after some stupid cell phone company or bank, the closer we get to losing a large part of what has made baseball what it is today.  The venues that the game has been played in.  Think about it.  Some of you may have moved with your family at some time in your life.  Left the house that you grew up in.  Left the only home you and your family have ever known.  It’s a sad thing to go through.  I know because I’ve fought my family on them doing so for a long time now.  I’m sure eventually it would be best for my parents to move out of the house that is now a little too big for them and its been a little selfish on my part to request that they stay.  People say, “What’s the big deal?  It’s just a house.  You’ll still be family no matter where your parents live and regardless of whether you’ll be able to go back to the only home you’ve ever known or not, it’s about where your family is that makes a house a home, not the actual house itself”.  That may be true, but then why does it matter so much to so many that nothing does change and that you’re able to keep the same house forever?  It’s because that’s where all your history lives and breathes.  And as baseball fans, our fellow fans become our baseball family and our stadiums our baseball family’s home.  

Root for a team long enough and you don’t even need to know the people around you at the ball game.  Just the simple fact that you wear the same team colors and have laughed and cried at the same history of the team together is all that matters.  When it comes to being a baseball fan, that’s what matters.  The memories.  And the memories will always be there.  It just doesn’t feel the same though when you think about the fact that the tangible place in which those memories took place will be gone forever.  And for baseball fans that have had to go through this around the country, it’s a very sad thing.  Shea Stadium, Yankee Stadium and every other ballpark that has been shut down over the years because it was simply to old and out of date to invest in and carry on, had fans that went through the same thing New York Yankees and New York Mets fans are going through now.  The memories live on but the tangible home of those memories soon to be lost forever.  That is a sad thing.  One of the biggest necessary evils of the game I suppose.  Let’s just hope Wrigley Field is never added to the list and that Cubs fans never have to experience this kind of loss.

wrigley field panoramic.png
The Cubs have the best record in the National League, are playing well, have already had a magical regular season and starting next Wednesday, start their postseason quest of becoming World Series Champions for the first time in 100 years.  Given all of that, even I’m surprised I was able to post a blog that feels like a giant downer.  Fact is, some losses hurt more than others…and while any kind of series loss would be painful for Cubs fans, after watching the video included above about the fire sale of memorabilia at Shea, the thought of the loss of Wrigley entered my mind and I couldn’t help but think that in this ‘anything is possible’ world of ours…no matter how much history the stadium has and how much love for the place fans have for it, Wrigley could eventually also go away.  And to not bring a World Series championship to Wrigley before that does happen…well, that just wouldn’t be right.  It’s been nearly 100 years since the last time the Cubs won it all.  With all that Wrigley means to the Cubs and its fans, and how much it is a part of the team and the club’s identity and history, I think its waited long enough to share in a championship season. It’s time Wrigley has a stadium full of Cubs players and Cubs fans cheering inside it after the final out of the World Series is recorded and the Cubs are World Champions once again…before something awful/corporate happens and that experience is no longer a possibility.
Less than a week until the first game of the NLDS at Wrigley.  Sunday night we’ll know who we’re playing.  And it can’t get here soon enough.  GO CUBS GO!!!
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Mets 7 – Hoffpauir 5

Dailies

Final score: Mets 7, Cubs 6.  Will any of what occurred in the past four days matter come October?  Who are the Cubs going to play in the NLDS?  This race has been so entertaining, I don’t even want to be able to know the answer to that until after all the games end on Sunday.

Mets are hanging in there…Marlins are up next for them and they are no slouch.  Then again, they’re no Cubs either.  
3 games left.  Mets are behind the Phillies by 1 game in the East and tied with the Brewers for the Wild Card.  Again, tied for the Wild Card…three games left.
This is one of the greatest playoff positioning battles I’ve ever seen going into the final weekend of a season.  All three teams battling to get in to the final two spots in the NL are playing at home this weekend…each with varying degrees of difficulty in their opponents.  Mets get the Marlins, again no slouch.  Phillies get the Nationals…somebody from Philly organize this year’s schedule in case it came down to the wire again like last year?  I mean, the Nationals??? Come on.  The Nationals may surprise people every now and again but let’s face it, if I’m the Brewers…I am not happy about this situation one bit.
Sure I’m at home…on the same field the Cubs borrowed and threw their nearly perfect, first no-hitter in club history in over forever ago.  Facing the team with the best record in the National League…who will show up as the away team…yet playing in a stadium often considered Wrigley North.
Forget Houston being rescheduled to play home games in Milwaukee…this hardly seems fair.
So here the Cubs are.  Already captured the NL Central, earlier than they ever have.  Best record in the National League, home field advantage through the NLCS (if they make it that far).  And as if that weren’t enough…they now get the added bonus of possibly playing spoiler for the Brewers.  
Wow.
The Mets were great this week.  If it wasn’t for their bullpen blowing leads, they may have faired better.  Considering we weren’t going full lineup in every game gives me very little concern about the Cubs in looking at these past four games.  Although I suppose Zambrano does raise some concern.  He didn’t look so hot on Wednesday and of course the start before that he got ROCKED.  Nobody is going to care about Z’s no-hitter come October, especially anyone in an opposing team uniform.  Dempster’s going to kick things off, but we are definitely going to need Z to be closer to no-hit form as opposed to ‘last two starts’ form.  As always with the Cubs, this is about to get (even more) interesting.
I love that we’re in a position to take a look at some guys in figuring out our postseason roster though, a luxury teams like the Mets, Phillies and Brewers don’t have.  Man, what an audition Hoffpauir had tonight!  5 for 5, 5 RBI’s and 2 HR’s.  I was IMPRESSED by him in Spring Training, unfortunately there just weren’t enough roster spots to fit him into for pretty much the entire regular season.  Once we had a chance to call some guys up, Hoffpauir and Pie were the two guys I hoped would get called up.  I expect them both to be on the roster for the NLDS and when called upon, while more so Hoffpauir than Pie, I expect them both to be ready and prove to be contributors in the clutch.
Three more games to the 2008 regular season.  Mets, Phillies and Brewers playing for a division …a wild card…an opportunity.  The Cubs on the other hand…playing in hopes of being champions…contributors…and quite possibly, spoilers.
159 games played.  And yet still, 3 more needed to make sense of it all.  GO CUBS GO!!!
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Advantage: Cubs

Dailies

By beating the Mets in the house the Amazin’s built, the Cubs clinched home field advantage throughout the NLCS.  Now whether they make it that far remains to be seen.  However, with the home field advantage Wrigley has been so far this year for the Cubs…that is definitely more great news this club can enjoy, in addition to repeating as NL Central champs, clinching the division on Saturday against the Cardinals.

Marquis pitched a great game today going deep into the seventh inning and provided the game winning grand slam. I always find it weird to see a pitcher hit a home run, even as a national league fan. Of course, I always welcome it regardless.
 
You can tell its audition season as of late with Pie getting more playing time lately. I admire the fact that Lou is still playing everyone, keeping them ready and trying to built momentum going into the playoffs.  Pie has delivered as of late and I believe he will be a great cog to have if we need him in the postseason.  Before the season I thought he was the next great CF this league may see.  He still could be I suppose, but after watching Edmonds and Johnson take over center this year, it truly shows how much Pie still has left to develop as a player before he contributes at that level on a regular basis.  
 
One thing Fukudome will provide in the postseason for sure is his glove.  He’s a smart fielder and made another nice play tonight against the Mets.  His bat may have cooled off and the NL may have ‘figured him out’, but his glove is one thing you can’t do anything about.  He’ll be a great defensive component if nothing else in the playoffs.
 
I’m glad Lou is keeping Z in his regular spot in the rotation.  After getting hit hard last time out and having such a drastic difference in outcomes in his two appearances after being out for two weeks, Zambrano really needs to be in there on his regular rest.  Everyone else has been shuffled slightly to shape up and prepare our four man rotation for the playoffs.  That four man group of course will feature Zambrano, Lilly, Harden and Dempster.  Four great seasons right there…let’s hope it continues when the calendar flips and we hit October 1.
 
Speaking of which, still not sure who we’ll be playing which is why Lou hasn’t named a Game 1 starter for October 1. I can’t say I like the Cubs’ chances any more or less when it comes to the Mets or Dodgers.  Both teams have been hot and cold as of late, both have big time play makers in their lineups and I feel like their pitching staffs are pretty much equal performance and health-wise at this point, very late in the season.
 
55-26 at home this year.  Best overall record in the National League locked in.  Playoffs start October 1.
 
Advantage: Cubs.  
 
GO CUBS GO!!!
 
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