Prose and Ivy is at Wrigley Next Week. Are you?

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Hey there, Cubs fans! Are you by chance going to be at the Cubs game next Tuesday night and/or Wednesday afternoon?

You are?

Well, great…ME TOO.

If you want to meet up during a game or before hand/afterwards, let me know and let’s see what we can work out! Not sure where I’m sitting as of yet, but I will be there taking in the last two games of the homestand against the Rockies at Wrigley. As of now, looks like I’ll catch Russell Tuesday night and then Coleman on Wednesday (ok, Soto will do the catching, but you know what I mean). Would have been great to see Wells/Cashner, but they are no where near ready to come back yet. Hopefully we see them on the mound at Wrigley again soon.

I’ll keep this post updated as I find out more! Go Cubs Go!

UPDATE – 4/27 7:25pm CST: An amazing day today in Chicago. Aside from coming to town to catch two games against the Rockies at Wrigley, I also had a couple meetings scheduled. I’m happy to say I will have some exciting news to share very soon. Regarding the games, today’s game against the Rockies was postponed until June 27th. No refunds or exchanges so I’ll probably be back in town to catch the make up game. I was at Wrigley long enough to eat another amazing tray of nachos (seriously, they must be the best in MLB) and take more photos to post on the blog. Those will be up in the next days or so. Looking forward to sharing them with you. It wasn’t raining very hard and the tarp never came off the field. I felt good about a 1:20pm start because of all the hours left in the day to start the game late if need be. However, I think teams’ travel schedules start to get in the way and unfortunately due to a lack of break in the poor weather and the fact that both teams would travel tonight, they called it. Flying out in the morning. Had a blast. Check back here in the next couple days for photos and more details about the trip. I’ll be scheduling another trip for May sometime and of course will look to come back to catch that make up game for a trip back in June among other return visits to the ballpark this season. Looking forward to it already. Go Cubs Go!

UPDATE – 4/26 10:50pm CST: Just got in from the Cubs game. Wrigley is the best place to watch a baseball game, hands down. Always more fun to see them win, but considering the way the weather was today, good to see a game at all. Didn’t turn out much better than my simulated version on PS3. Rockies beat the Cubs 4-3. Helton proved to be too much for the young Jedi, Russell and Soriano’s bottom of the ninth blast came leading off with no one on and came up short in the end. Russell doesn’t seem to be the long term answer as he didn’t get through five yet again although he threw his career high, 82 pitches. Took a ton of pictures and will have a lot more to say when I post after tomorrow’s game later this week. Also, for some reason my phone won’t allow me to access Twitter so if you follow me and were looking for in-game tweets, that’s why there weren’t any. I’ll update this again though after the 1:20pm CST game tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll get to sing Go Cubs Go at Wrigley before the my trip is over. Go Cubs Go. Let’s raise that W flag tomorrow.

UPDATE – 4/26 1:10pm CST: Hanging out at my friend’s place where I’m staying these couple days. Played Rockies/Cubs on PS3, MLB 2K11. Russell pitched a great game but bullpen blew it late. Was up 2-1 going into the 8th on a Soriano home run. Ended up losing 5-2. Good thing it didn’t count…and hopefully it doesn’t end up counting as the only Cubs game I see today. Raining pretty hard in Chicago right now. That’s the bad news. Good news is it’s only 1:10 and today’s game time is 7pm. We’ll see. Hey Chicago, whaddaya say, how about we stop this rain today?

UPDATE – 4/25 10:30am CST: I will be sitting in section 110 at the Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon games. Third base side 1’10’. I may not have a jersey with the 10 patch on it, but I think it’s cool the first games I’ll see at Wrigley this year are going to be third base side, 110. Flying in honor of Mr. Cub. Root, root, rooting in honor of Mr. Santo. Go Cubs Go!

UPDATE – 4/21 9:50pm CST: Found out I’ll be in Row 14 on my flight there and back. I shall snack and read thousands of feet about the ground in honor of Mr. Cub.

I’m Not Only A President, I’m Also A Member

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(Note: Those of you looking for the Santo dedicated post titled “The Cubs Have Lost Their Voice”, it is listed right below this entry.  RIP #10.  You will be missed.)

Depending on where you live in the world, if asked right now, “What’s today?” some of you may answer “Friday”. Some of you may say “Saturday”.  Some of you may say something that makes no sense because you are wasted.  And for those of you who write a baseball blog and are a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, today you may answer “Why it’s Baseball Bloggers Alliance Day, of course!”

Of course.

I have been writing Prose and Ivy for three years now and one of the highlights for me has been my relationship as President of the Cubs Chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA).  The idea of uniting baseball bloggers across the web and opening up opportunities to work on projects together seemed intriguing to me and it’s been an experience I’m happy I committed to.  From working contributing to others’ columns, to hosting podcasts, to voting on end of year awards and worth inductees for the HOF, the BBA has a great group of writers who are passionate about their team and the sport in general.  I have a list of all the blogs listed in my sidebar down on the right side of the blog. You should check it out if you haven’t.  If you have a blog and are interested in joining (no fee, just a few guidelines for membership is all), I urge you to contact the BBA and jump aboard!  The website for the alliance can be found here.

The logo for the group looks like this:

bba.jpgAnd in commemoration of my time as a member of the BBA, I wanted to post an interview I did around the intial time I joined the group.  That interview can be found here:

At the end of the award voting, I decided that since the Baseball Bloggers Alliance had come along so quickly, it might be nice to get an idea of who was actually in the group. To that end, I’m working through the roster and asking ten questions of each member. The first five are standard, while the last five are a little more personalized. Hopefully this will help us get a feel for our fellow members. So, here’s entry nine in a recurring series.

Ryan
Website: Prose and Ivy
BBA #14

Question 1: How and why did you get into blogging?

My two main interests are comedy and sports. I’ve been writing and performing comedy for over 12 years. I stopped ‘performing’ when it came to organized sports after my senior year of high school (not including intramurals or club sports in college, I suppose). So basically, I never had a real outlet for my ideas/opinions/thoughts on sports.

I love baseball and when I saw the opportunity to have a blog on MLB.com, I jumped at the chance. Thought it would be a fun opportunity to joke, vent, rant, etc when it came to one of my favorite things in life. And then, when they made the site free, even better. : )

Question 2: Do you have any blogging projects planned for the off-season?

Over the off-season I plan on continuing to write and follow the trade rumors and signings as they happen. The moves that effect the Cubs directly, as well as some of the bigger signings that effect the team indirectly. In addition to that, I will continue a key feature on Prose and Ivy where I interview Cubs fans, much in the same nature as you are doing here for BBA members. The feature is called “Prosecards from Cubs Nation” and it’s been a blast getting to know Cubs fans from all over and here about their thoughts and experiences rooting for the Cubs. Will definitely continue that feature right up until Spring Training starts and into the 2010 regular season.

I also have a blog talk radio show where I discuss Cubs baseball and post the shows to Prose and Ivy. I haven’t recorded a show since the season ended, but that is something I’m looking to jump into again and post to the site just after the new year.

Question 3: What’s been your most enjoyable experience as a blogger (particularly well-received post, a high-profile link, a connection you wouldn’t have had otherwise, etc.)?

My most enjoyable experience as a blogger was when I was given the opportunity by MLB.com to review an X-Box game for MLB.com/Entertainment. They were looking for people to review MLB 2K8 and the write-ups would be featured on the site with an official MLB byline. That was all I needed to hear. I let them know I’d like to review the X-Box version of the game if possible and after they said it was a go, I went right out and bought an X-Box. Had the system for about a week, long enough to review the game, but short enough so that Best Buy would believe I had purchased it as a duplicate gift and take it back. Well worth the two trips to Best Buy and the opportunity to be prominently showcased on MLB.com.

Question 4: How did you find out about the BBA and what attracted you to the group?

I can’t remember how I heard about the BBA, however I think I heard about on another blog or was approached by Daniel himself, I can’t remember. The most attractive part of the group is the alliance the blogs share, in that, if you are a fan of a blog on the list, and looking for more quality baseball information…if you look at the list of blogs the BBA members recommend, you will be forwarded on to another blog in the group. It’s great for referring readers along to other BBA blogs and a great place to get quality bloggers together to share ideas regarding how to improve their sites.

Question 5: What do you want to see out of the BBA in the coming year?

BBA representatives on sports talk shows. TV and radio, both. I think that would be an amazing jump for the BBA on networks like ESPN, MLB Network, as well as local sports news shows around the country. Might be a bit far fetched, but we’ve already received recognition on ESPN with one of the Yankees blogs being selected to represent NY (AL) in the covering the playoffs this year from the fans’ perspective. Seemed to me like a great step in the right direction to achieve what I mentioned above.

That and maybe keychains. Yeah, strike that. Definitely keychains.

Question 6: How would you describe the Wrigley Field experience?

I would describe the Wrigley Field experience as incomparable when you see it in person for the first time. If my friend Justin is reading this, that means you can’t compare it to anything. It’s like no other stadium in the big leagues and only Wrigley and Fenway can actually say that, both for unique, distinct reasons. No jumbo-trons showing you the same blooper reels from 1982. An energy of a fan base just chomping at the bit for a championship banner to raise on Opening Day the following season.

Being at Wrigley feels like attending a reunion filled with family members you’ve never met before. People you look forward to spending time with as you know you have a ton in common, whether you know their names or not. Before you know it, you’re having a beer together laughing about shared family stories and happy you had a chance to share that time together at the world’s greatest ballpark. Like favorite cousins by the end of the day related not by blood, but bleeding Cubbie blue (cheesy, but accurate).

The Wrigley Field experience is also kind of like a weird montage from a High School Musical film where when you see it for the first time you wonder, how on Earth do all of these people know the words to that song and why are they all singing it simultaneously? I mean, that doesn’t happen in real life. Does it?

Wrigley’s basically amazing. You see the names on the jerseys like family members you share the same memories about. Sandberg, Banks, Smith, Grace, Lee, Davis, Dawson. A feeling that you’ve shared the ups and downs and simply can’t wait to get to your seat, have something to eat and enjoy watching your favorite baseball club compete day in and day out. It’s possibly the greatest way to spend three hours on any given day, bar none*. (*pun intended. the bars are a bonus. it’s the team and the stadium that makes the day great.)

Question 7: Is it tough not to be fatalistic as a Cub fan, to not just expect something to go wrong?

Yes, but that’s all part of it. At this point, it’s part of being a Cubs fan. You expect the worst which is what will make the day the Cubs win the title that much sweeter. It would mean, finally, something didn’t go wrong. (Then of course, I believe you may cue the action sequences of the film 2012 to follow very closely behind. Pretty much right after ‘Cubs win! Cubs win!’. Consider yourself warned.)

Question 8: How did you become a Cub fan?

I think a lot of people either become a fan of team because their parents rooted for them, their friends rooted for them, or they end up with a favorite player and then the team follows suit. For me, it was Ryne Sandberg. I grew up in Connecticut with no professional baseball team to be found among the up-turned collars and Eastland knots. Most of the games I attended growing up were at Shea Stadium down the turnpike and into Queens so I saw a lot of National League ball. Ryne Sandberg was my favorite player. The Cubs attachment followed soon after and it’s been an interesting ride (to say the least) since it did. As always…Go Cubs Go.

Question 9: Do you enjoy having a MLBlog?

I definitely enjoy having an MLBlog. MLB.com is the go-to place for all things baseball (obviously) and MLBlogs is a great opportunity the league has given the fans. The system gives you the opportunity to add a lot of cool features to personalize it so it really feels like you’ve made it your own. I would highly recommend it. (That and chocolate frosties at Wendys. Those things are awesome.)

Question 10: What’s up with that blog address?

I probably should have just gone with the words prose and ivy in the url, would probably be easier for people to find. But…I didn’t. The url is www.onedayatwrigleyac000000.mlblogs.com. The w’s I had nothing to do with and in a way, I feel they’re a little redundant. We’ve seen what one ‘W’ can do, let alone three. The mlblogs part comes with the territory. The onedayatwrigleyac000000 part was all me. It basically refers to the sign at Wrigley that refers to the Year of our Cubs (the AC “Anno Catuli”) and keeps track of the number of years it’s been since the Cubs won their division, league and the Series. The day the Cubs win it all (including their division that is), the sign would read AC000000 as in Anno Catuli and then zero years since the last division title, league pennant and Series title. Lofty goals for sure, but then again, it’s not all about the seventh inning stretch and Lou throwing a fit now is it. Ask me again when we have more time and I’ll tell you how I came up with the .com.

Take some time to check out the group’s site and don’t forget to wolf down some peanuts and cracker jack.  BBA Day holiday tradition…of course.

Go Cubs Go!

Prose and Ivy BBA App Available For Your iPhone

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First, iTunes became the gateway to The Beatles.  Now, naturally, Prose and Ivy is part of Apple’s next best thing.

Ever finish playing Angry Birds and think “That was fun, but I’d really like to read a sarcastic point of view of the Chicago Cubs’ latest news”?  Ever wrap up whipping your buddy at Words with Friends and wonder “How can I access all the Cubs information I need to know, and still be thoroughly entertained”?  Ever end your nether-region photo session and email your last pic to Jenn Sterger and think “Man, I could sure go for a little Prose and Ivy right about now”?  Well, two out of three isn’t bad!
And now, you can!  (Access incredible baseball news from bloggers around the country, including Prose and Ivy on your iPhone that is, not email pics of your junk to random former sideline reporters…well, you could, but that’s not what I was really referring to).


As the Cubs Chapter president within the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) I have some exciting news to share with you today.
Julian Levine of SplashingPumpkins.com has released the iPhone BBA app…and it is awesome!  Not only can you access the latest posts from this blog, but also the best baseball blogs on the web!  From passionate writers covering the Cubs and every other MLB team, you can see what everyone is talking about and join in on the fun.  There are a ton of blogs out there that deserve your attention and if you’re introduced to just one new quality blog, that on top of the article feed makes the app well, well, worthwhile!  You can get the app here.  It is rated 4+ which means all of the articles sent to you through the app contain no objectionable material…however the humor, analysis and baseball insight is like no other.  Some technical details of the app on iTunes:
  • Free
  • Category: Sports
  • Released: Nov 30, 2010
  • Version: 2.0
  • 2.0
  • 2.4 MB
  • Languages: English, Spanish
  • Seller: Casey Haakenson

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later

Anyone who picks it up, let me know what you think!  Android version of the app coming soon!
Go Cubs Go!

Baseball Bloggers Alliance Awards announced – Prose and Ivy named Cubs Chapter President

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For those of you who also write an MLBlog, you know how powerful the baseball blogger community can be and how active they are with regards to all headlines related to the great game of baseball.  For those of you who tweet during games and have started a Twitter account to discuss your favorite baseball team, you can appreciate the network of baseball fans that exists across the country and how much fun it can be when they unite to discuss the latest news regarding your #1 team.  For those of us lucky enough to have the opportunity to work together as baseball bloggers, looking to raise the bar when it comes to baseball blogging, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) has been an amazing experience and a fantastic outlet for baseball bloggers across the globe.  With members that are fans of all AL and NL teams as well as authors of general baseball sites, the group is overflowing with knowledgable, passionate baseball fans thrilled to type away and share their thoughts with you regarding the daily happenings surrounding the MLB.

I am excited to say that I have been named the President of the Cubs Chapter for the BBA and look forward to incorporating news from the Chapter in postings and updates here on the site.  One of the fun things the group has done in raising it’s level of participation and recognition mirroring the impact the BBWAA has on the game, is name award winners at the end of every season.  As a chapter, myself and the other Cubs blogs will decide who we feel deserves to win the award and we will vote accordingly.  While the exact nature by which we decide who our Chapter will vote for has not been locked in as of yet, I’m guessing it will be completely by committee and by a majority vote.  
Here is a copy of the press release going out from the BBA regarding this year’s awards.  Feel free to leave your thoughts regarding the awards in the comment section!  Go Cubs Go!
Baseball Bloggers Alliance Announces New Award Names

Changes reflect appreciation for history of the game

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) recently announced the renaming of
their annual postseason awards to comply with the wishes of the Baseball
Writers Association of America (BBWAA), thereby avoiding confusion between
the two organizations.  This allowed the BBA an opportunity to recognize
some of the legendary greats of the game, naming their highest honors after
them.

Earlier in the year, the BBA reached an agreement with former Yankee
reliever Goose Gossage to name our newest award, recognizing the best relief
pitcher in each league, after him, said Daniel Shoptaw, founder and
president of the Alliance.  It only seemed fitting, then, that we rename
the rest of our awards after other legends of the game.

The five awards are given to a player in each league: The Connie Mack Award,
given to the top manager; the Willie Mays Award, for the top rookie; the
Goose Gossage award, mentioned above; the Walter Johnson Award, which would
be analogous to the BBWAA's Cy Young Award; and the Stan Musial Award,
awarded to the most valuable player in each league.

According to Shoptaw, These names are synonymous with quality, achievement,
and dedication.  These names have not only stood the test of time, but have
been strengthened by it.

The schedule for the announcement of these awards is as follows:

Connie Mack Award: October 14
Willie Mays Award: October 18
Goose Gossage Award: October 21
Walter Johnson Award: October 25
Stan Musial Award: October 28

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was founded in 2009 and numbers 222 blogs
covering all major league teams and various other aspects of baseball, as
well as blogs and sites that are affiliated as Friends of the BBA.  The
official website of the BBA is located at http://www.baseballbloggersalliance.com.

The BBA can be found on Twitter by the handle @baseballblogs and by the
hashmark #bbba.  Members of the BBA may be heard at Blog Talk Radio every
Tuesday night with their call-in show, BBA Baseball
Talk http://www.blogtalkradio.com/baseball-bloggers-alliance,
which may also be downloaded as a podcast from iTunes.
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Prose and Ivy on-line Talk Show today 11am CST

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Call in and share your thoughts on all things Cubs.  Here’s the description for today’s show!

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Wells goes for win number 12 today in San Fran.  Keep those W’s coming!  Go Cubs Go!

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Prose and Ivy on-line Talk Show Today 3pm CST!

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Hey Prose and Ivy readers/Cubs fans…today features the first episode of the Prose and Ivy Cubs internet talk show and you can listen in by clicking on this link.  The show details are listed below.  Hopefully there aren’t any glitches because I haven’t used the system before…we’ll see! Feel free to call in and talk Cubs baseball!  

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The listener call in number is 347-855-8243.  Unfortunately our special MLB guest has had to reschedule so we’ll have them on as a surprise at another time.  But lots of great topics to discuss regarding the Cubs anyway….tune in, call in…Wells on the mound today against the Reds….Go Cubs Go! (UPDATE: The pilot show has been recorded and is ready for you to listen to now….click play on the Prose and Ivy Cubs blogtalkradio.com player in the link list to the right and check back for upcoming air dates SOON!  And for accuracy’s sake, when I say ‘bottom of the ninth’ I actually meant the top.  Ok, that’s it…enjoy!)

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Marmol Aida

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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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Could still pick up 1/2 a game today

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That was the photo up on Cubs.com today.  No, people weren’t protecting themselves from rowdy Cubs fans throwing beer at the opposing outfielders.  Simply a photo of the Cubs having no chance in sweeping the PIrates today, due to rain, that will have to wait.  HOWEVER, we still have a chance to pick up 1/2 a game on the Cards as they are currently in their own rain delay in the 8th inning, trailing San Diego 5-4.  Any where we can pick up ground whether it be the division or in the Wild Card race we’ll take it! 

Zambrano pitching A ball.  The guy threw a no-hitter against the MLB Houston Astros about a year ago and yet I’ll bet that won’t happen in the innings Z gets in A ball.  Isn’t that bizarre?  Same guy who can no-hit an MLB team could potentially struggle in an A ball game.  Sure, he’s there to rehab, but still.  When you’re the Cubs’ staff ace, you’ve started five straight opening days and you’ve no-hit the Astros, you should destroy in A ball.  He won’t though and most don’t.  Bizarre.

I’m just looking forward to having him back and healthy.  Anyone else tired of Gregg’s dramatic turn this year?  Anyone else feel like giving Guzman the eighth and Marmol the ninth?  I certainly wouldn’t mind and it would be fine if they didn’t sooner rather than later considering now is crunch time.  Which makes me wonder who is going to step up this last month and half to make up the 4.5 games we need to pick up to grab a share of the division lead.  Sori?  Bradley?  Lee?  Will Soto ever wake up?  Will Fontenot start again at second base or has Baker stolen the starting spot from co-Mr. LSU double play combo Fontenot?  Did Felix Pie’s hitting for the cycle make anyone miss him?  Probably not.  Is Lou really on the hot seat or are sports writers just trying to sell papers?  Probably the latter. 

Just some thoughts on a rainy PPD of a day.  That and of course, let’s keep the heckling of the opposing players to simply that.  And of course, on-line in blogs such as this one.  Ballpark beer is too expensive to waste on a bum like Victorino and doesn’t put Cubs fans in a very good light.  Glad the guy apologized and stepped up in taking responsibility for his actions.  Throwing anything at an opponent is uncalled for.  Especially a cup of $8.00 beer.  Anyway, take advantage of the PPD and spend the time you would’ve spent watching the game checking out the rest of the site and requesting your very own Prosecard.  For more info on what that is, read the next couple posts.  Go Cubs Go!
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Cubsterpiece Theater proudly presents

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http://www.xtranormal.com/players/jwplayer.swfhttp://www.xtranormal.com/players/embedded-xnl-stats.swf

Enjoy reading Prose and Ivy and following your favorite team all year long?  Be sure to email me at proseandivy@cubsmvp.com to be featured here as the showcased Cubs fan in the new feature “Prosecards from Cubs Nation”!  It takes next to no time at all and is Cubtastic.  Also, way cooler than that last sentence.

Awesome game today, Cubs keeping the wins coming against the Pirates.  Have to win the games we’re expected to win and these are those games.  Gorzelanny had to feel good bring the W against his former mates, especially in being responsible for one of the RBI’s on the Cubs side.  Still not sure where all this is headed this year…hopefully the Cards lose tonight to San Diego and we can pick up a full game today.

Go Cubs Go! 

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NEW FEATURE: Prosecards from Cubs Nation!

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What’s up Cubs fans!  I remember writing a post last year about how ‘we’ll always have Pittsburgh’.  Seems as if that feeling and situation still rings true.  I didn’t get a chance to watch today’s game as I was up to my eyeballs in work today, but I did have a chance to follow it on-line.  When I saw a four run first inning, I thought, wow it’s about time.  Let’s see how this goes.  See if Wells can hold ’em and maybe we’ll actually beat a team when we have more hits than they do.  And then…BOOM….a 10 run 2nd inning!  What!?!?  10 RUNS?  Unreal. 

That’s the kind of thing you like to see when you check in from work on the ballgame.  The days are long enough without cubs.com sending me a final game score that shows Gregg as the losing pitcher or the fact that the Cubs were blown out.  A 10 run inning is exactly what you need to get you through a miserable afternoon!  Fukudome, Lee (7 RBI!) and the gang doing their thing today and Pittsburgh plays victim to another Cub on-slaught.  Awesome. 

I wasn’t the only one enjoying it either….one of Prose and Ivy’s most loyal readers took great joy in the outcome as well.  She goes by the name of ‘Abracadabra’ and is often found chatting with me and other fans here during Cubs games.  A few of you have really stepped up and stood out as enthusiastic readers and Cubs fans over the past year and a half year and because of the great fans I’m meeting with this blog I decided to add a new feature to Prose and Ivy.  It’s all about Cubs fans and showcasing some of the team’s biggest fans.  This week’s interview is with Abracadabra in a new feature I like to call “Prosecards from Cubs Nation”.  Check out the feature’s debut here with Abracadabra in the lead off spot!

PROSE AND IVY’S “PROSECARDS FROM CUBS NATION”
Prose and Ivy Reader and Cubs Fan showcased: Abracadabra

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Hey Prose! Here's my profile; can't wait to see the interviews up on your blog. Keep the posts coming!!
 
Name: Abracadabra

Why the Cubs are your favorite team: To put it in two words: CUBS
NATION.  We're all in this together, win or lose. It's singing "Go Cubs
Go" with 40,000 of your closest friends after a Cubs victory. It's
going to a Cubs road game and having several thousand Cubs fans
cheering alongside you.
 
It's been a hundred and one years, but when we do win it all, it will
be the greatest celebration ever. No fan of any other team can claim
that. None of us became Cubs fans because it was easy, but I wouldn't
give it up for anything.

Favorite Cubs memory: June 29th, 2007. Cubs vs. Brewers at Wrigley
Field. Rich Hill gives up five runs in the first inning, but the Cubs
chip away and enter the bottom of the ninth trailing by two runs. With
one out, there are runners on first and third and the Cubs get a run on
D-Lee's sac fly. We're down to our last out, and the tying run is only
on first.. Aramis steps up to bat, and hits Francisco Cordero's first
pitch into the left field bleachers for a walk off win. Greatest game
I've ever been to- Wrigley Field was a madhouse.
 
Favorite current Cub: Ryan Theriot

Favorite all-time Cub: Ernie Banks

Your dream Cub line up: Derrek Lee 1B, Ryne Sandberg 2B, Aramis Ramirez
3B, Ernie Banks SS, Billy Williams LF, Hack Wilson CF, Andre Dawson RF,
Jody Davis C, Fergie Jenkins P

How would you celebrate a Cubs championship?: My dream is to be in the
stands at Wrigley Field, or at least in Wrigleyville, but I don't know
what the probability is of either of those happening. Wherever I am, it
will be a combination of shouting/cheering/crying/waving my W flag and
hi-fiving/hugging anyone who's close by. I can't even imagine how
exciting it will be- you know, like all the years of heartbreak have
finally paid off.

Most feared opposing batter: Albert Pujols

Most feared opposing pitcher: Tim Lincecum

You can either sing during the seventh inning stretch or call a half
inning, which would you rather do and why?
Call a half inning. Singing
in front of 40,000 is not my thing.

One thing you would change about Wrigley Field: Ticket prices. 

One thing you would change about the game of baseball: Get rid of the DH in the American League.

You're having dinner in the Cubs clubhouse and can invite any four
Cubs, living or dead.  Who would you invite and why?
Jake Fox, he seems
like he is a really nice, down to earth guy. He also played with my
cousin (Kevin Slowey) in the Arizona Fall League. Ryan Theriot. He's my
favorite player! Ernie Banks, he's Mr. Cub!! Ryne Sandberg, another
Cubs great and Hall of Famer. 

Do you believe the Cubs are cursed?  Yes or no and why? NO. Curses are
just excuses. Baseball is determined by the players on the field.

More vital to the Cubs' success...Zambrano's bananas or the back up Gatorade machine? Got to go with the bananas.

You have 30 seconds to break the news to Soriano that he is never going
to lead off for the Cubs again.  What do you say?
Sorry Alfonso, we
need you in the lineup, but we need you batting in the sixth hole. It's
best for the team, and we could use your power lower in the order.
You're best suited to bat around the middle of the order, so we want to
utilize that. 

You have 30 seconds to break the news to Kerry Wood that he'll never
pitch for the Cubs again.  What do you say?
I wish I wasn't the one to
tell you this, but the team has decided to move on with another closer.
I know how much you would have liked to end your career with the Cubs.
Please understand that the fans didn't want this to happen, and you
will always be welcome in Chicago.

You have 30 seconds to break the news to Carlos Marmol that despite
being the fan favorite and most dominating pitcher on the roster to
compete for the closer, the job is going to Kevin Gregg.  What do you
say?
You've had a great spring Carlos, and I know your goal was to win
the closer's spot, but we've decided to give the job to Kevin Gregg.
I'm not saying Gregg is the better pitcher, all it is, is that we're
giving you the 8th inning role which can be just as important. In fact
there's more flexibility for the team if you're not going to close,
since we can bring you in to get out of a jam in the 7th inning if we
need. 

You are Steve Bartman.  You have the opportunity to see the Cubs play
in the postseason at Wrigley Field and potentially close out the NLCS
making your way to the World Series.  However, you are warned that
either you, or the guy next to you is going to make a decision that
night that will make you one of the most hated Cubs fans in the history
of the game.  50-50 shot.  Do you go to the game?
No... If you go your
life may be in danger, and you'd always be hated by Cubs fans, even
though you're one of them. 
Disclamer: I don't hold Steve Bartman responsible for the Cubs collapse.

You're hired to run the Cubs 2010 public relations campaign.  You can
use any slogan, player, etc that you want to.  What is your advertising
campaign/slogan for the 2010 season?
My advertising slogan would be a
movie trailer for the 2010 season starring the players in various
roles: Aramis Ramirez: "The RBI Machine", Carlos Zambrano "The
Venezuelan Bull", Ryan 'The Riot' Theriot "The Sparkplug", Derrek Lee
"Veteran Leader". And of course, soundtrack by Steve Goodman.
"For the last hundred years, every season, every playoff berth has been
nothing more than an unfinished chapter in a long, sad book... but with
handful of determined players and a veteran leader, the whole story may
be rewritten."
Believe- A Lou Piniella Film, coming April 2010

Awesome to hear from Abracadabra!  Thanks again Abracadabra for leading off in the new Prose and Ivy feature spot!  17-2 win today.  Good things happen when Wells pitches lately.  And playing Pittsburgh sure doesn’t hurt!  Can’t wait to have Z and Lilly at full strength again.  Rami back at full strength would be a true blessing as well.  We won’t be playing the Pirates everyday, need to get as much fire power going as possible in rounding out this season…and it’ll be September before you know it!  I know we’re supposed to beat teams like the Pirates so it’s good that we do, because so is everyone else.  Now we need to keep this up AND figure out how to stay competitive and take series from true contenders.

If you want to be featured as a Prosecard from Cubs Nation and do a fan interview to be posted here at Prose and Ivy to share with other Cubs fans, please email me at proseandivy@cubsmvp.com and I’ll send you the questions to answer!  Thanks again Abracadabra!  Go Cubs Go!
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Make that ‘See-Saw’

Dailies

Once again, following a strong one run win by the Cubs, they follow it up with being on the wrong end of a blow out.  I think Wells has been great for this team this year but today the Rockies proved to be too much for him.  The amount of wins he’s collected for us and the recent innings he’s eaten up have made him one of our most valuable Cubs this year.  And now with Zambrano out with spasms, who knows how much more we’ll need to get out of him.  We might have to keep asking for too much from the youngster in order to keep up the W’s while the L’s seem to keep chugging along aside them.

Two games behind the Cards now as neither team has really been able to take advantage of the other’s mediocrity.  I have to feel like the Cardinals are a little closer to having it together though and the Cubs need to find a way to be more consistent.  Ironically, that’s been the one constant through the entire season.  There’s a reason why when people say ‘at least I’m consistent’ after they make another mistake they are joking and making light of a bad situation.  Unfortunately the numbers don’t lie and it’s going to be hard for the Cubs to make light of a situation that could end up with them quickly falling to the middle of the pack in the Central if the Cardinals do prove to be the team closer to having it together in upcoming weeks.

I feel like this team has been kept together by duct tape, gauze and bandages all season long.  It still blows my mind that we’re two games back even without having all our guys on the field most of the year.  It’s been this weird game of watching the 15 day DL rotate throughout the year and a stressful one at that.  I need to research and find out how many games each of the guys have missed this year.  Hard to wonder where we’d be had we been able to stay healthy.  I’ve thought losing DeRosa has had a big impact on this team this year, but DeRo or no DeRo, he’d have no influence on guys staying healthy.

The latest lineups have been entertaining though and I like that Piniella isn’t afraid to try new things and look for the fix.  Fukudome’s been fairly consistent no matter where in the line up and I like what he’s doing with Soriano.  Lee has turned it around and is pushing towards having another 30 HR 100 RBI season.  Having Rami out with a sore shoulder is scary as we saw what a force he was for the Cubs run production when he returned to the lineup.

Hopefully Piniella and the staff are wise in how they use everyone going forward.  Need guys as healthy as possible going into September which is exactly what we’ll be heading into come the end of Zambrano’s stay on the DL.  And hopefully that will translate into more consistency and less of a see-saw performance from the team to round out the year.  Two games back.  Time to tighten it up.

Go Cubs Go!
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Good to See

Dailies

Bradley’s game saving catch followed by the stare down of the Rockies crowd and a thump of his chest on the way back to the dugout.  That sequence was fun to watch tonight.  Not only because it preserved the Cubs’ lead, but it showed some fire this team has been lacking this year.  The Cubbie Swagger.  I realize winning brings swagger but sometimes the fake it til you make it swagger can bring wins as well, I believe.  And Bradley’s attitude after that play is exactly the kind of swagger this team needs to keep momentum in the NL Central.

I enjoyed watching the replay of Lee heading back to the dugout after a strike out and telling teammate Fukudome about a breaking pitch he had just gone down on.  Fukudome, you could tell, regardless of language barrier understood what Lee was telling him about the pitch and what he was warning him to look out for.  Why?  Because it must not be an English/Japanese thing with these guys at this point.  After playing together so long, I’m sure they’ve figured out a way to simply communicate by speaking baseball.  Whatever it was Lee said sure did do the trick.  Fukudome stepped into the box and sent the first pitch he saw (fastball) straight out to the seats in right field.  Cub fan got a souvenir, Fukudome got his ninth of the year and the Cubs got the win.

Marmol was dominant once again in the eighth.  I watched the game on the MLB Network so it was the Rockies broadcast.  Interesting to hear even their broadcast team talk about how the Cubs have the guy with the nastiest stuff pitching the eighth instead of the ninth.  That’s always been my argument for having Marmol pitch the ninth, but I guess the ninth doesn’t matter with a lead….so….I don’t know.  But Marmol was dominant in striking out the side.  The broadcaster’s point about Marmol falling hard to the first base side when he pitches was interesting too.  I’m sure it doesn’t help in painting the corner against a lefty or coming inside accurately to a righty.  In fact, I could see it making so much sense that I bet if we had a total of hit batsmen by Marmol, it would favor righties for a number of reasons, but mainly that one.

Then Gregg came in in the ninth and did his thing.  Couple balls hit really well but the Cubs had the field covered perfectly and Gregg added a save and the Cubs put one more up in the W column.  Interesting to see the Cubs are 55-15 when they score 3 or more runs.  70 games with at least 3 runs.  For as much as this team has struggled and missed having their whole lineup this year, I don’t think I would’ve guessed that they would’ve hit 70 at this point. 

Anyone else thoroughly enjoy Theriot’s stop and toss to second?  One of the guys I truly enjoy watching day in and day out.  Why did we see Fuld and Baker late in the game again?  Are they that great of an upgrade defensively over the guys they replaced?  I don’t think so but the ninth worked out, so perhaps?  Anyone else impressed with how many Cubs fans were at the game?  Felt like every other person in the stadium had Cubbie blue on.  Along with the other details of tonight’s game….good to see!

Getting married in two weeks from today.  In two weeks from today I will have been married for nearly seven hours.  Wow.  Funny when I can feel it set in a little deeper.  Talking about it of course quite a bit lately but every now and then, you can just feel it set in a little deeper.  Tell you all about it in a few weeks…honeymoon in Vegas the week after.  Vegas baby. : )

In the meantime, let’s keep it up boys!  Go Cubs Go!  And Happy 21st Anniversary to night games at Wrigley!
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How good are we?

Dailies

Today on Twitter I put it out there that the Cubs would sweep this series from the Cardinals.  So much for that.

Forget should be, could be, would be.  How good ARE we?  Honestly, maybe not that good.
Sure, healthy I think we could be unstoppable.  But this is the major leagues, who wouldn’t be unbelievable at full strength?
It is what it is.  Here’s what it is:
HITTING Cubs ranking across the entire National League:
Batting Avg .252 tied for 11th
SLG Avg .427 ranked 5th
OBP .339 ranked 7th
SO 268 ranked 7th
BB 144 ranked 7th
HR 46 ranked 4th
Hits 312 ranked 13th
Stolen bases 20 ranked 11th
Games 37 (fewest in the NL)
So what are we looking at here.  We’ve played the fewest games in the NL so we don’t have the at-bats the other teams have.  Yet, the at-bats we have had have only been so productive.  Two-thirds of the National League has a better batting average than we do.  About 80% of the league has more hits than we do.  Yet, our walks are up there in the top ten putting our OBP up there in the top ten as well. We’re getting on base and showing above average patience.  Not quite enough in the results category though and somehow while our patience has been rewarded at times with plenty of walks, over half the NL is either more patient than we are overall or are swinging at better pitches than we are as we rank 7th in the NL in strikeouts.  Soriano and Lee of course may step forward, they surely help in that category (Soriano leads the team with 36), but overall, this is an issue.  The key problem with the team so far as far as I can tell by just taking a quick look at the numbers is well displayed in using Soriano as an example in that Soriano also leads the team in home runs, hits, doubles (tied with Fukudome), runs, RBI’s and total bases.  
Can he be amazing some nights? Yeah.  Is he sometimes awful?  Well, yeah.  Does that make him good?  Um…at times?  But certainly no better than that.  And that’s pretty much where the team is performing as a whole.  Lots of moments where we look brilliant and then plenty of examples of ‘wait, what?’  Injuries happen to everyone…every team.  No single player ever won the World Series.  This is a team sport.  So let’s just forget about injury bugs for a while…our bench and back up guys are just as important as the starters.  Their at-bats count just as equally.  They cross home plate, it counts as a run just as it does a starter.  If they fly out, no breaks there.  No half outs.  No mercy rule for bench/support guys.  It is what it is.  And right now, this team…from marquis starter to last guy on the roster, this team isn’t very good. Not often enough anyway.
Thirty seven games in.  21-16, three games behind the Milwaukee Brewers.  That’s what happens when you have a stat sheet that looks like the one listed above.  Starters or supporting players, this team has to get more consistent.  Tonight’s three hit display was pathetic and I agree with a lot of Cubs fans in that we could be sitting pretty right now 20% of the way through the season if we had that fire night in and night out.  I don’t think it’s there right now.  I do believe what I said in my last post that Piniella has done a great job keeping us in the thick of things considering that we’re not at full strength.  Problem is, those that do get to play must get more consistent.  Otherwise, we’re not that good of a ballclub.  At best, we’re ok.  And when was the last time a team that was just ok did anything special?  
Season’s still young but it can get away from you in a hurry.  Let’s hope the guys start hitting their stride, finding that patience at the plate and those that are struggling shake off the rust finally and really start contributing.  Otherwise, maybe it’s time to give some other guys a shot who make a difference on a consistent basis.  
Before I sign off here, let’s take a look at the pitching stats:
PITCHING Cubs ranking across the entire National League:
ERA 4.50 ranked 10th
Wins 21 ranked 4th (behind two others in our own division, Cards and Brewers)
Saves 9 tied for 8th
Hits 293 ranked 15th
ER 163 ranked 8th
HR 45 ranked 2nd most
BB 151 ranked 6th
SO 308 ranked 1st
And yet again, there you go.  For every one thing we’re doing well, there’s something bringing us down to mediocrity.  Should, could, would…paper…forget it all.  This team is going to have to find a way to be much more consistent and develop in the areas they are lagging behind.  It’s up to Lou and the coaches to figure this thing out.  As far as I can tell, more patience at the plate, smarter pitch/swing selection, more control on the mound, keeping the ball down (when the opposition hits it, they are apparently hitting it a LONG way) and perhaps a change at closer is in order to bring this thing up to par.  
Should we be good?  Yes.  Could we be good?  Sure.  Love our roster on paper?  Me too.  Are we all that good?  Right now?  Not really.  Lucky to be three games out.  Let’s see how the rest of this series against the division rival Cardinals goes.  Would be a great time to really start throwing this thing in gear.  Go get ’em Demp. (oh, and as for which of these guys I think deserves an all-star vote as I promised in my last post?  Just one…Fukudome.  The rest, I’d have a hard time justifying so far).  Go Cubs Go!
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‘Chicago’

Dailies

My dad and stepmom came to visit this weekend.  They hadn’t come to visit for about eight years and it was great to have them here.  My dad especially always thinks the city is going to be too hot, too cold, too crowded, too…something. Lately it’s been beautiful outside.  60’s.  Upper 70’s.  Spring.  Baseball weather.  Beautiful.

And then came Sunday.  90 degrees beating down on the NYC pavement…and of course, the one day in nearly the past decade that my dad chose to visit.  Figures.

We had a great time regardless.  He and my stepmom had never been to Central Park so we took a long walk.  Beat the heat with some ice cream and waters bought at those carts you find in parks across the country.  I only just recently decided to eat hot dogs sold from a cart.  A baseball hot dog is a wonderful thing.  Something about buying a hot dog from a baseball vendor or at a concession stand at a stadium just feels right.  Buying a hot dog from a weird man with a dirty cart filled with old hot water…not quite the same appeal.  However, they are $2 and sometimes, especially lately, a two dollar lunch is just what the checking account ordered.

There were kids all over the Alice in Wonderland statue.  People driving remote controlled boats at the boat pond.  A Greek parade pouring down Fifth Avenue.  Lots of people out sunbathing and people walking their dogs everywhere.  A great Summertime scene in 90 degree weather smack in the middle of Spring.

We went out to eat for every meal which something I really only do when company is in town visiting.  My stepmom was talking about the Yankees/Red Sox games she caught over the weekend and how exciting they were.  Great games sure, but on top of that, the Red Sox won.  She’s one of those fans who have recently come back around to baseball.  She’s in her early 60’s and after the 1994 strike, she had had enough.  Too much focus on money and greed for her to respect the game she once loved.  Enough years passed though and she’s come around again.  Rooting for the Red Sox like she always has.  Of course for a while there it was because she liked to go sit in the outfield and check out Dwight Evans booty.  Now though, it’s simply for love the Sox and having something in common with her grandchildren who live in CT.

We had tickets to see ‘Chicago’ on Broadway Sunday night and she kidded about skipping it to watch the Sox/Yanks on Sunday night baseball.  She decided she could hang in there though (of course) and enjoy the show based on the movie she’s loved since she saw it.  I hadn’t seen the movie so I didn’t know what to expect.  Let me tell you…this show (and I’m sure film) does not paint a very pretty picture of Chicago.  Murders, crimes, lies, etc…I understand the city has a reputation for crooked politicians…but they sure didn’t try to shine a light on anything positive with regards to Chicago, that’s for sure.  I mean come on, throw a baseball fan a bone and mention Wrigley or something, ya know?  Of course with the way this show was going, if there had been a baseball reference, it surely would’ve been about the Black Sox scandal.

Anyway, the show was great.  Not one of my favorites of all the shows I’ve seen in New York, but up there among one of the better performances…especially when it comes to less is more.  They do a lot with hardly any set or stage frills and you’re entertained the whole time.  Which really, is a lot like the Cubs now that I think about it.  Wrigley Field.  Barebones.  Old school.  No real frills.  No cookie cutter park.  Bare essentials.  Few thrills or real ‘characters’ when it comes to our lineup.  Just hardnosed baseball that entertains you the whole time you’re at the park or following the season.  Pretty cool in that respect considering the show is called ‘Chicago’.

Some of the songs in the show remind me of some of the Cubs roster though.  Just for fun (considering we’re a few games in back of the Cards right now…not exactly the April I had hoped for) here are some of the songs that made me think of Cubs players and the players that match up:

“I Can’t Do It Alone” – Carlos Zambrano.  Ace of the staff.  No-hitter last year.  We know he’s going to bring it every time he takes the mound.  But he is not going to be able to do this thing alone. Demp, Lilly, Harden and Marshall are all going to have to step their games up if we want to repeat in the Central again this year.

“My Own Best Friend” – Aramis Ramirez.  Pretty much our only quality at third base.  Without a true backup, he’s basically his own best friend on the hot corner. Aramis goes down and we’re pretty screwed at third.  We need his glove and bat all season long.  Injuries will come and go…let’s hope Ramirez isn’t effected too often in ’09.

“Mister Cellophane” – Micah Hoffpauir.  This really applied stronger during Spring Training.  Lately Micah has been getting his share of at bats and his talent is no longer see through to Lou.  He’s giving him a chance to shine in the regular season like he did in Spring Training.  Not ready to give up on Lee by any means, but like DeRosa was great to have as a quality anywhere kind of guy, Micah is the closest thing we have to that right now on the ballclub and it’s good to see he’s finally getting noticed.

“All I Care About” – Chicago Cubs fans.  While the character that sings this in the show is rather sarcastic in singing that all he cares about is love…I think Cubs fans would be genuine.  Sure we want the trophy after all these years…but there has to be a reason we come back year in and year out.  For love the Cubs, we wouldn’t come back if it was all we really cared about.  Championships are nice and a World Series title would be insane, but be honest, you’ll keep coming back regardless.

All in all it was a great weekend.  Took my dachshund to the dachshund festival on Saturday and it was hilarious.  Dad and stepmom came in on Sunday and we had a blast in the big city, can’t wait for them to come back again.  The show was a great time and a real treat for them to take us.  Chicago needs to do something to change that rep though, it really doesn’t come off all that great in the show.  Maybe something big is needed to make people think about it differently…like I don’t know…a Cubs championship perhaps?

Couldn’t hurt.  Go Cubs Go!

AUDIO POST: Prose and Ivy on the United Cardinal Bloggers Hour!

Dailies

Below is the podcast recording of my guest appearance on the United Cardinal Bloggers Hour Wednesday night.  The hosts were real welcoming, knowledgable and great to have a conversation with regarding Cubs and Cardinals baseball.  With the series coming up this weekend it was a great opportunity to pick each other’s brains about the respective opponent.  They said they’d keep things civil in enemy territory more or less and they did.  I had a blast and would look forward to appearing on the show again if invited back in the future.  Some of the highlighted topics of the conversation, among others:

  • AC000000 – please explain for Cards fans what that’s all about
  • The DeRosa trade
  • Expectations of the 2009 Cubs
  • ’07-’08 Playoffs
  • Injuries and other Potential challenges to the Cubs in 2009
  • (and from Tom @ CardinalsGM.com) What’s your perception of how Cubs fans feel about D-Lee?  Are they ready to sit him and bring in Hoffpauir to start at first?

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/BTRPlayer.swf?file=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eblogtalkradio%2Ecom%2FUCB%2DHost%2Fplay%5Flist%2Exml%3Fitemcount%3D4&autostart=false&bufferlength=20&volume=77.7777777777778&borderweight=1&bordercolor=#999999&backgroundcolor=#FFFFFF&dashboardcolor=#0098CB&playlistcolor=#999999&playlisthovercolor=#333333&cornerradius=10&callback=http://www.blogtalkradio.com/FlashPlayerCallback.aspx?referrer_url=/Profile.aspx

(NOTE: As of 4/27/09, the show I was on is the fourth one down on the list of shows.  If you don’t want to listen to the whole show and only tune in to my appearance, after hitting play, click inside the play tracking bar right above the middle of the envelope icon.  That should take you right to where my interview started.)  It was a great experience.  Great meeting Kathy from Redbirdchatter.mlblogs.com who was on as a guest as well.  I put it out there that I predict the Cubs take 3 out of 4 this weekend.  Cards take game one and the Cubs take the next three.  We’ll see.  Go Cubs Go!
 

Listen tonight as I guest on the United Cardinals Bloggers Radio Hour

Dailies

I’m going in.

Cardinals/Cubs series this weekend Thursday-Sunday at Wrigley.  The Cubs will have home-field on their side…I won’t be so lucky come this evening.

If you get a chance tonight, listen in to the United Cardinals Bloggers Radio Hour (link here) and hear me guest as we chat about all things baseball, including this weekend’s Cubs/Cards series.  Not so sure that there will be any other Cub fans included as guests so Cubs fans should feel free to call in and back me up!  (Actually, the guys mentioned that they’d keep it civil…but you never know when it comes to this rivalry!  I’m definitely looking forward to it so if you get a chance, dial it up on-line.  Also on tonight as a guest is fellow MLBLogger Redbird Chatter.  Should be a great time and an even better series this weekend!

Had a chance to watch today’s game on-line and man…does it hurt to get beat by Marquis!  Losing at Wrigley is always a horrible feeling…but having a cast-off and lay down the beating?  Not cool.  And Marquis and his stuff?  Please.  That was pathetic.

Opening Day on the other hand was awesome.  Cubs have opened the first week of the season up strong going 5-3, currently in second place behind the Cardinals.  Lilly was amazing through seven delivering the goods no one is to speak of until it’s over (you know what I’m saying) and it’s great to see him come out strong.  Not concerned at all about Zambrano, can’t wait to see him this weekend.  I feel bad for teams who don’t have that ace that makes you believe every five starts you are going to win.  Great fun in having that with Zambrano…wish I could make the Apr 21 game against the Reds to get the Zambrano no-hitter statue.  That thing is pretty cool and a great symbol of an amazing pitching performance.  Love Dempster and expect great things from him this year.  Harden got roughed up today but again, it’s early, not concerned.

Soriano is having one of his best Aprils so far ever, especially in the past few seasons and Fukudome seems to be in his April zone like last year.  With Bradley injured with a bum groin (surprise) it’s going to be important he performs like he’s capable of.  I love the balance in the lineup Bradley brings, but this injury is a great opportunity to see Reed play a whole lot more. Nothing wrong with that.

Hopefully Soto comes around.  Sore shoulders and catchers?  Not a good mix.  If Soto is healthy I don’t foresee a sophomore slump so hopefully his body holds it together.  Same with Ramirez and Gregg actually.  Injuries could be a huge problem for this team this year, something that could ruin plans we’d all love to make come October.  Ramirez’s bat and glove don’t have the back up Gregg does.  Marmol can step up and close I feel without a real problem…backing up Ramirez?  That’s much tougher.  Miles at 2B and Fontenot at 3B isn’t exactly the ideal.

Lee on the other hand.  Aside from today’s solo shot, it’s been a slow start and really the only weak link in the healthy part of the Cubs lineup right now.  I’m kind of hard on Lee because I expect a lot from him.  He needs to step it up and be his a Cardinal killer this weekend.  Any time we get the Cards at Wrigley, we have to take advantage of it.  Playing in St. Louis is never easy…need to get these four games this weekend while we’re inside the Friendly Confines.

We’ll see how friendly the podcast/radio hour confines are this evening.  Can’t wait to talk Cubs baseball with hard-core baseball fans.  Again, call in if you get a chance and say hey.  Come back soon for a new post recapping the experience!

Go Cubs Go!

Are we there yet? YES!!!

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

Prose and Ivy Intro to New MLBlog Readers

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As we are only about five hours away from flipping our baseball calendars to a whole new year and being that the MLB Network launches tomorrow in millions of fans’ homes across America (which could only bring more attention to the MLBlogs community), for any new visitors to MLBlogs.com or Prose and Ivy, I would like to wish you a happy new year! 

To kick things off heading into 2009, I thought I’d use a copy of the spheroid MLBlogs posted about Prose and Ivy earlier in the year to introduce myself to you and say welcome to my blog!  For everyone that enjoyed reading Prose and Ivy in 2008, thank you for continually stopping by and I look forward to talking Cubs baseball and baseball in general with you throughout 2009.  
Have a safe and happy new year,
Ryan
Prose and Ivy

Spheroid: Prose and Ivy

Wrigley 

MLBlogger: Ryan at Prose and Ivy
Signup date: Dec. 5, 2007

1. Why do you blog?

I live in New York City and there aren’t many Cubs fans that I’ve met here so far who are readily available to talk about the day’s Cub headlines or the most recent Cubs game.  It’s great to have access to a community of baseball fans in general, but especially to be able to reach out and communicate with other Cubs fans on a daily basis.  Until the Cubs hire me as a beat reporter/analyst, this is the closest I’ll come to either…and I love it!

2. What was your favorite post?

My favorite post would probably be the one titled “The Face, The Brace, The Pace, The Place and The Ace” or “The Poster Child”.  The first one was one of those blogs where you feel like you have so much to say it just flows once you sit down and start typing.  Those are exciting when they happen. The other one I just think is really funny…my own little parody of the Cubs upcoming ads for the 2008 team.  Good times.

3. Strangest blogging experience?

The first time I received a comment because I couldn’t believe people were actually reading my blog.  It’s made me post nearly daily lately with people responding and the feedback I’ve received regarding how many people are enjoying my page.

4. What is your favorite blog, including at least one MLBlog?

There are couple that I was really enjoying yet can’t seem to find any longer which is too bad.  I really like Crawly’s Cubs and Some Ballyard. A good mix of humor and analysis is what I really enjoy when reading someone else’s blog.  And anyone who enjoys my blog…I generally read there’s regularly too.

5. What would you be doing if you weren’t blogging?

Walking my dogs.  They REALLY should be outside on a walk right now.

6. Where do you think the blogosphere is going?

Blu-ray?  I don’t know you got me.

7. Favorite team and why?

Cubs.  Chicago Cubs.  Yes those Cubs.  Great characters on the team, great potential, great history, great fans, great stadium, the seventh inning stretch, the underdog status year in and year out, wondering if this will be the year and how many more years I’ll be wondering if this will be the year…and Ryne Sandberg.  He was the man.

Chevychase8. What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I have met two of my comedy heroes in rest rooms (BIZARRE but true).  I met Chevy Chase in rest room at a political fundraiser a few years back and was so excited I shook his hand to meet him before I had a chance to dry my hands after washing them.  After shaking my hand he looked at me and said “You gave me a wet shake.”  I didn’t know what to say…all I could come up with was “It’s all water I swear.”  The other was Bill Cosby in a Barnes and Noble bathroom in NY. I was waiting for the bathroom to become available and right behind me walk in two huge security guys…behind them, a man with sunglasses and a baseball cap.  Quickly that man became Bill Cosby.  SO COOL.  I didn’t want to bother him although inside I was freaking out as he is a stand up legend.  He then said to me “Are you waiting?”  I turned and looked at him and said “Yes, Mr. Cosby. I am waiting.” He just turned away, then turned back, smiled and said “We are waiting.”  He then left.  But for a brief moment there, Bill Cosby and I were doing the same exact thing at the same exact time.  Again…SO COOL.  (And yes, he was wearing ‘one of those sweaters’.)

9. Happiness is…

…champagne all over your team’s clubhouse at the end of the World Series.  I’d say that’s happiness indeed.

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Let’s Go Marquis

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First place in the Central up for grabs tonight!  Looking forward to watching the game and blogging about it later tonight!

http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/player.swf?mediaId=3380544
Later that evening: Unbelievable.  (not my average length of blog but I think that pretty much says it all)
GO CUBS GO!
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My MLB2K8 Review for MLB.com

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Hey everyone…in between my time spent watching the Cubs and blogging about them I had the opportunity to pretend I was them.  And I suppose Lou Piniella too, for that matter, considering I was in charge of lineups, arguing with umpires, etc. 

Here is my review of MLB2K8 on Xbox 360.  I thought it would be cool to get the MLB.com by-line and a great chance to receive a free copy of the game.  It’s definitely one I recommend highly.  Here is the article, complete with reviews from Steve Dempsey and Paul Festa for the Wii and Playstation 3 respectively. 

If you don’t want to leave the site, you can read my Xbox review right here:

Bloggers take a swing at MLB 2K8
MLBlogger takes new video game for test drive

By Ryan Maloney / Special to MLB.com

A new Major League Baseball season also means a new beginning for video
gamers everywhere. Put down your Assassin’s Creed, your Halo2 and, yes,
even your Guitar Hero 3. The MLB 2K8 game from 2K Sports has just
arrived at the MLB.com Shop, and to help capture the diverse experience
we turned to three members of the MLBlogs community who reviewed the
game over the Nintendo Wii, PLAYSTATION3 and Xbox 360 systems.xbox logo.png

Heil-Yeah! And No Need to Rename it the ‘L’illy Flag

Dailies

Ted Lilly got his first win of the year and all is well in Cubville.  zambrano_pumping_fist_1.pngMonday night Zambrano picked up another win with seven strong innings, allowing only one run and looked absolutely dominant.  Not only physically, but mentally too, the way he looked hungry for even more success and more domination after every strike thrown and out collected.  Having a warrior like Zambrano pitching for your ball club every five days is such a treat to look forward to, in between starts.  He’s the type of personality I love having on this team.  His scuffle with Barrett in the dugout last year came from his passion for winning and it ended up being one of the things that sparked the Cubs to success last year.  That fire in his eyes is the type of thing that, once contagious, can really propel a team to their best start since 1975…huh, what do you know…exactly the position the Cubs are in after 20 games into the season.

The Mets’ Heilman couldn’t keep up with Zambrano and the Cubs hit him hard over and over…a theme that continued throughout the evening.  Even one of the Cubs’ least effective bats found a way to put an exclamation point on the team’s dominance when Pie hit a 3 run shot in the eighth to put the game away.  I haven’t enjoyed a home run like that since Opening Day when Fukudome went yard to tie it up.  Sure, any Cubs home run is exciting, but these two came for guys in moments I really wanted them to come through and exceed expectations…or to some degree, meet them.  I couldn’t have been happier for Pie when the ball found its way into the cage just over the ivy in right.  A great ending to a great game.

cedeno slam.pngAnd then today…my goodness.  Not only does Lilly show signs of coming around and matching the results put up Demp and Big Z finally, but he even comes away with the win at that.  No ‘L’ flag for Ted today.  The Cubs’ bats are on a ridiculous streak and I LIKE IT.  Seriously, it’s hard to remember the last April that was this much fun to follow the Cubs.  Every single one of our starters today got a hit and six of the eight position players are hitting .300 or better.  What a rough couple games the Cubs gave Sosa there with Pie going yard after being in such a slump and then today Cedeno comes in and jacks him out of the park for a grand slam putting the game out of reach on a whole other level.  CEDENO.  Not Lee, not Ramirez…Cedeno.  Everyone is hitting.  I mean, look at this box score:

4/22/08

Chi Cubs AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Johnson, LF 4 0 1 2 1 1 3 .339
Pie, CF 5 0 2 0 0 0 4 .206
Lee, 1B 4 1 1 0 1 0 3 .353
Ramirez, 3B 4 1 1 0 1 0 3 .280
Fukudome, RF 3 2 3 0 2 0 0 .357
DeRosa, 2B 4 1 1 1 1 0 6 .309
Cedeno, SS 5 2 2 5 0 2 7 .345
Blanco, C 2 1 1 0 1 0 3 .357
  b-Ward, PH 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .077
  c-Soto, PH-C 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 .317
Lilly, P 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 .200
  a-Fontenot, PH 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .206
  Howry, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  d-Murton, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 .111
  Marmol, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  e-Marquis, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .250
  Hart, K, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Totals 36 8 14 8 8 3 33

Also, great to see Marmol lock down 2 more K’s and the Cubs get out with the win without wasting innings from Wood and get a chance to let him rest today.  The more days we can do that for Wood, the better. 

And now next up, Hill on the mound in the high altitude, higher expectation environment of Coors Field.  With all the recent success the Cubs have had to start the season including this five game win streak, Hill is going to be expected to continue to show signs he deserves to be one of our starters and to keep this thing going…especially when it comes to the bigger picture: the 10,000 all-time win mark for the Chicago Cubs.  Now, does that really matter in the long run for this season?  No, but it would still be a cool milestone for the organization to hit.   With all the hitting that is going on, I don’t expect it take very long to get there. 

Tomorrow night, a six game win streak and 10,000 all-time Cub wins is certainly not out of the question.  Go Cubs Go!
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We’ll Always Have Pittsburgh

Dailies

52-24 and 2 sweeps.  That’s our record so far against Pittsburgh this season.  We’re 6-0 against the Pirates with an overall record of 12-6 on the season.  Thanks to this last win against the Pirates, we took over first place by 1/2 a game over the Cardinals.  And this weekend, it wasn’t even close.

Unbelievable.  I feel like I’m saying “I’ll take that anyday” a lot so far this season.  Well, roughly 12 times anyway.  One run wins.  Ugly wins.  Completely dominating wins.  Completely dominating wins back to back.  And even wins that come back-to-back-to-back in a sweep.  It’s been a great first month so far.  I mean look at these two box scores from the past two blowouts over the Pirates:

4/20/08
box score 4:20.png
4/19/08
box score 4:19.png

That is an amazing weekend of baseball.  With the new format here, I’m not even sure they lined up correctly honestly, but really…what’s it matter?  Both days happened regardless of whether they line up with the correct date here and the Cubs look great.  I think it’s amazing it’s happening without our All-Star outfielder and leadoff hitter but boy, signing Johnson sure does look like a really smart move now, huh?  Why do we continue to see rumors that the Cubs are looking at Coco Crisp?  Maybe, they’re just that, rumors.  With Johnson in the leadoff spot, I’d be interested to hear what the Cubs record is opposed to others leading off, besides Soriano (anyone know?).  Lee is amazing.  Even people in the message boards (my point being not just me) are talking about Lee killing it this year and predicting he finish with the triple crown.  Hey, who am I to argue?  He looks great.  And Ramirez seems to be coming around lately too, especially today with his four hits (matching Theriot’s four hits as well). 

I’m glad Fukudome’s deal isn’t more serious, just a cyst over his eye.  It does go to show again how valuable Derosa is though as he played right field today.  He’s supposed to be our starting 2B and he has since played LF and RF (could Brian Roberts do that? I don’t know that he could).  Eyre is supposively coming back, so that will be interesting.  We haven’t gained too much from those who took his place in his absence, but I certainly don’t want the Eyre of 2008 that we’ve seen so far to come back.  We don’t need that now.  We already have Weurtz.  Isn’t that bad enough?

And if Dempster was unhappy about his inning management today, well then somebody help him out with that or tell him something that he thinks will help.  Because whatever he’s doing is working as I was right.  Demp is justified as a starter starting the season at 3-0 and having one of the best starts among all Cubs starters. 

Speaking of which, Zambrano goes tomorrow against the Mets.  A much truer test of the Cubs’ abilities.  MLB.com’s story is right.  I believe the Pirates are a team you should beat.  But the Mets are another story…so…we’ll see.  Maine is on the mound for the Mets and he’s having a great season too.  Should be another pitcher’s duel Zambrano finds himself in.  Let’s hope the Cubs didn’t waste all the good offense on the Pirates.  Time to ‘meet the Mets’ all right…with a giant offensive onslaught.

Let’s keep it going…Go Cubs Go!
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Let’s Say They’re Right

Dailies

Let’s say the experts are right and the Cubs are going to represent the National League in the World Series this year.  And really, what better game to talk about this afterwards than today’s game.  Our 4-8 hitters looked great and our pitching looked strong.  Hill turned things around a bit and had a decent game giving up only 1 run on 3 hits and even erased one of those men on base by picking off a Pirate at first.  It was the first win by a Cubs lefty starter this season…a nice trend to kick off, hopefully its contagious.  Marmol was AMAZING facing six hitters striking out five.  He is quickly becoming one of my favorite Cubs to watch, right up there with Fukudome and Zambrano.  And Wood put it away for his fourth save in five opportunities.  What a great late game 1-2 punch he and Marmol are becoming.

wood soto 4:18.pngfukudome triple 4:18.pnghill 4:18.png 
As for the ‘obnoxious’ behavior exhibited by the Cubs fans against Cincinnati…shove it Brennaman.  Get a sense of humor.  One ball leaves and fifteen are thrown back.  Come on, that’s funny.  As long as no one’s pegging Fukudome or using Derosa and Reed as target practice, I’m all for the fun.   Derosa’s cocl with it too aside from the fact that its 10 minutes of his life he’ll never get back (the clean up).  Where exactly does Derosa have to go?  His Idol was eliminated so no phone calls to Fox to make.  Don’t sweat the 10 minutes Derosa.  Just keeping doing a great job backing up Hop-A-Long Cassi-D.L. 

Often, with as tight as MLB competition can be, your records in one-run games are huge come the end of the season.  Always great to see the Cubs take as many as they can get and especially against a team in the Central.  Not that the Pirates should factor in to heavily this year, but you know what I mean.  10-6, 1 game behind the Cards.  Good times.

Now, to the real business at hand.  Say the experts are right and the Cubs are in the World Series…well who’s representing the AL?  Does it matter?  No…as long as we’re there, they could all be fun!  As promised, here is my first installment of why it would be fun to play any of the teams in the American League in the World Series.  And we begin with:

The AL East

Yankees:  Two of the most historic, oldest ballparks in the Major Leagues.  One is being demolished come the end of the season and the other may never be the same if certain people get their way.  What better way to celebrate a Cubs Series after all these years than by playing every game in two of the greatest stadiums in baseball…and beating the Yankees in a four-game sweep?  Sounds like fun to me.

Red Sox:  As above, same goes for Fenway.  Red Sox Nation got their’s four years ago and then took another for good measure last year.  Cool with the Green Monster, but not with a Greed Monster.  You’ve had yours, share.  The story lines would be amazing and although I’m not positive…it may not be too late to bury a Lee jersey in the Fenway Park visitor’s dugout.  Something to check into if the time comes.  Sounds like fun to me.

Orioles: Ok, so maybe this will be the reason that oriole kept trying to fly itself into my bedroom window over and over again and not the Brian Roberts trade.  100 years since the Cubs last title and the silver anniversary of the O’s.  “Derosa, Roberts.  Roberts, Derosa”.   Nice put a face to the trade rumors.   Cubs playing in a Series involving Roberts regardless of whether the trade happened or not.  Sounds like fun to me.

Rays: Could be billed as “The No-fair Bowl”.  With the Rays being in existence since 1998, not exactly the same amount of suffering between the two teams’ organizations/fan base.  Every where in baseball people will be talking about how money doesn’t make a difference as they try to offer contracts to ballplayers whose names sound like the other cast members of ‘Desperate Housewives’.  The stories that could be written about the extra pressure the Cubs will be in to win this Series and shock the Rays would put on the baseball world.  Sounds like a lot of fun to me.

Blue Jays: First World Series victory against a team that resides in another country after signing a third country’s number one free agent back by a pitching staff made up of pitchers from all over the world.  Hardly simply a World Series title…that’s practically world domination.  Sounds like ‘waited for a 100 years to win another’ kind of fun to me.

For now though, we’ll take these things one game at a time.  AL Central to come next week (for fun, of course) and the Cubs continue their drive to make the experts look brilliant tomorrow against the Pirates.  Marquis on the mound.  GO CUBS GO!
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A New Feature on Prose and Ivy

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While I will definitely continue writing here as close to daily as possible, whenever I get a chance to add a little something extra to this space, I’m going to try throwing on this new feature as an add-on to my writing.  Of course, I’m not sure the embedding is going to be compatible with the new format.  (If so, great, if not, I guess there will be a link at the end of this to click on).  This was my first attempt so they’ll get better as we go (promise).  Those AL East comments I talked about yesterday are coming either later this evening or tomorrow at the latest.  Rough game today, huh?  I don’t know what Lilly’s waiting for.  Hill’s in danger of losing his spot in the rotation and Lieber didn’t look so hot today giving up Griffey’s #596, a 3 run shot…seriously…could someone besides Zambrano and Dempster please start showing something in the starter’s role please?
lilly pitching 4:17.pnggriffey 596 HR.png

Please?

That would be great.  In the meantime, feel free to click this link to play the first Prose and Ivy Cubcast!  Good times.  Go Cubs Go!

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They Could All Be Fun

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reds v cubs.pngAs I write this, the Cubs are up 11-3 in the middle of the 8th inning tonight against the Cincinnati Reds.  Cincinnati was down by more than Ocho by the middle of inning numero Cinco and there was no looking back.  What an unbelievable game.  Zambrano looks amazing.  7 innings and only 2 runs given up on 8 hits and 5 strike outs.  He even doubled and had an RBI.  Now if only the rest of the starters could follow suit. 

I didn’t really know what to expect with this being the first game with Soriano.  15 days.  Wow.  That is horrible.  It’s unfortunate it happens on a move (the hop) that isn’t even necessary to field his position…and odd that it happened doing something he does game in soriano swinging bat close up.png and game out, fly ball putout after flyball putout.  I like the fact that it opens up the opportunity to get the Theriot/Fontenot LSU double play combo on the field and it gives great value to Derosa’s existence on the roster.  Still though, losing Soriano is huge and it will be interesting to see how it affects us over the next couple weeks. 

Now, when I created the D Lee News and every other link list in the sidebar, I had the freedom of using them and adding to them anytime I wanted.  Since the blog format change, they haven’t been working properly always so I haven’t been able to keep the D Lee News or the Pitchers/Beer section as I’d like.  So let me say this, as for the pitcher/beer result for today’s game, it’s obvious, no?  Zambrano, this tall, ice cold, frosty mugged beer is on us.  You may be expected to stay off the soda and coffee…pull up to the bar with a bunch of bananas, a potassium pill and some pretzels my friend.  This beer’s for you…and its on us.

As for the D Lee News…if you look at the archives or have been a regular visitor to Prose and Ivy since Spring Training…you’ll know how worried I was about Lee.  He looked so amazingly bad in Spring Training, regardless of whether it counted, I really thought it mattered.  Turns
D Lee.png out…I was wrong.  Lee is having an unbelievable start to the season.  Fukudome has totally stolen the show, but Lee is probably the biggest reason the Cubs kick things off at 8-5 (about to go 9-5 as they are now up 12-3 in the top of the ninth with one out, about to put this one away).  Coming into tonight’s game Lee leads the team in AB, R, Hits, Doubles, HR, RBI, total bases, slugging %, and batting average (not counting Blanco who only has 8 AB on the season).  Are you kidding me?  No.  I did not see this coming.  And it is probably the second best surprise of the season.  Fukudome is the first.  He had another great game tonight going 2-for-3, scored twice, 2 RBI and walked twice.  He’s hitting .353 on the season and leads the team in on-base percentage.  Imagine this lineup when Soriano is healthy and hitting and Ramirez is hitting and in a timely manner and for power as expect, at that.  Incredible.

For now though, Soriano is out and we’re looking to make due.  Tonight was a great start coming away with the W.  9-5 on the season including a nice two game smackdown of Dusty in his return to Wrigley.   Hard to complain about too much so far.  A few pitchers need to pick up their game a bit and they know who they are, although I have no problem with the press harping on their struggles.  Hopefully it will motivate them to turn things around and join the rest of the team on their level of extraordinary play so far this season.

A number of publications in the beginning of the season picked the Cubs to win the Central and many picked them to win the whole thing.  I’ve been thinking about that (who hasn’t) for a while now and if that were the case…I was thinking about what it would be like to play the American League champion whoever they may be.  Lots of thoughts on facing every American League team in the Classic.  Those thoughts to be posted in the upcoming days…but let’s face it, if the Cubs are representing the National League in the World Series, bring on anyone from the American League…they could all be fun.  Tomorrow, to kick things off: the AL East.

Great game tonight!  Go Cubs Go!
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.500 After 2 Series. Now Let’s Ruin the Pirates’ Home Opener!

Dailies

Great weekend!  Went back to my alma mater to do some comedy and had a great show!  Saw some friends and family I hadn’t seen a while…good times. 
Cubs Win Wrigley Field Sign.pngAnd if that wasn’t enough, the Cubs got their first series win of the season and some of our guys are looking great so far!  Fukudome has taken over Chicago.  They may call Matsui “Godzilla”, but even he couldn’t take over a city the way Fukudome has taken over Chicago.  He’s basically done exactly what I expected…brought a complete playoff atmosphere/excitement to every home game at Wrigley.  Some players just do that (like I’ve said in an earlier blog ie, Lebron James, etc) and Fukudome is definitely one of them.  How exciting it must be for him to be making such an impact in a new league, in front of new fans.  Making the decision to make such a move with his career and family couldn’t have been easy and I’m happy to see its working out for him so far.

The Cubs are in a place now where no matter who they’re playing, I feel like they’re going to win.  And not in that love-is-blind kind of way either.  No homer predictions day in and day out here…I genuinely feel like they are going to win every game they play (not literally, but you know what I mean).  They are .500 after six games, against two division rivals.  As of now the Brewers and Cardinals are 5-1 leading the NL Central up 2 games over the Cubs in the standings.  Good luck with that.  That 2 game lead is about to evaporate very quickly.  I believe the team is still coming together and shaking off some winter rust.  Lee came through huge today with his third home run of the season and even Soriano hit one out!  Fukudome looks great, Zambrano has had two strong starts and Wood looks like he’s coming into his own in the closer role.  Dempster and Marquis showed they deserve those last two spots in the rotation in the Spring and now that they’ve completed their first starts of the season and shook any nerves off about it, I’m hoping they’re ready to move forward and raise some ‘W’ flags in the process. 
soriano runs out of the box.pngD Lee.pngIt’s a long season but there is just something about this team.  I believe .500 is going to be long in the rear-view mirror come the end of the season…and in a good way.  Milwaukee spoiled our opener in an exciting fashion and tomorrow we roll into the Pirates home opener.  Here’s hoping the Cubs pull off the same thing with the Pirates that the Brewers did to us.  The schedule organizers do a great job with all the division games right up front.  This division is probably going to be tight all the way down to the wire this year, just like last year (I realize this, it’s just fun to talk a little trash every now and then).  Having these divisional games up front is an exciting way to start the season…you always want to get out of the gates quickly…but especially against teams in your own division.  Let’s keep winning these series.  Zambrano looked awesome today…must’ve had a whole bunch of bananas laid out for him in the locker room before this one!   (Hey, whatever it takes…)

Looking forward to tomorrow’s game with Lilly on the mound.  Before I sign off, just want to say thanks to Mark and MLBlogs.com for putting Prose and Ivy on the MLB.com homepage!  As always…Go Cubs Go!
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The Talented Mr. Fukudome

Dailies

Thumbnail image for fukudome and third base coach.pngAre there no limits to the talents of Kosuke Fukudome?!  People said he was fast, but he’s shown some great speed so far this season!  Today against the Brewers, Fukudome nearly became the first player in major league baseball history to get to first and third base at the exact same time.  Psyched the Cubs were successful in landing him in the offseason!  Check out these numbers:

1.  K Fukudome
OBP .667  SLG% 1.125 AVG .500

Whatever they’re whispering in Fukudome’s ear, keep it up!  Sure it’s only three games in but Prose and Ivy and Chicago are huge fans of Kosuke Fukudome!  Even if they don’t quite know how to express it.  Let’s see how Kosuke does against the Astros this weekend!  The Brewers couldn’t figure him out and I doubt the Astros will in their first series against him either!  FUKU-DOME!!  FUKU-DOME!!  Rich Hill on the mound tomorrow…let’s take this series and make it a great weekend!  Go Cubs Go!

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