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

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.

The Cubs, Like the League, Currently Sitting at .500

This morning, walking to work, I was reading the MLB headlines – my regular morning routine. Nothing makes a 40 minute walk to work fly by like reading about who came through in the clutch last night and who fell flat on their face.

I read the Cubs recap for last night’s game. I was able to follow the game on-line but I always read the recaps, regardless. Demp was great until he wasn’t. That pretty much sums it up. After six innings he had only given up only one run and was cruising along. Of course, the trick is to catch him or any pitcher before they are no longer producing in a game. It’s always a gamble and something I’m sure Quade and his pitching coach are still fine tuning only 10 games into the young season. I was happy to see Dempster land his first W of the season and to hear that at his best he struck out five consecutive Astros batters.

It was good to read about Castro’s unbelievable day in the leadoff spot. Are we a little spoiled with Castro, or what? The baseball bat is to Starlin Castro what the ping pong paddle was to Forrest Gump.

No matter what you throw in front of Castro, if he decides to swing at it he is going to make contact. Last night in the lead off spot by the fourth inning, Castro had three hits, scored three runs and stole the Cubs elusive first stolen base of the 2011 season. Second base is no longer the Hope Diamond. We finally secured our first SB of the year and I’m hardly surprised Castro is the guy that accomplished it.

Marmol finished strong with three strike outs in his four-out save. It bothers me the club didn’t go to Marmol earlier as their closer. Remember that horrible experiment with Kevin Gregg?? Ugh. Marmol is dominating in the role again this season and I am becoming more and more comfortable with him that he will finish a game successfully as well as make it entertaining to watch (if not nearly heart attack inducingly entertaining).

The win put the Cubs back at the .500 mark at 5-5. We are 2 games back in the Central in second place tied with Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. We have that in common with those two teams…but my gut told me we had something in common with the league as well.

As soon as I saw the 5-5 record, something told me that’s about exactly what the league is doing right now. .500.  And as it turns out, as of this morning, it is. Adding up the wins in the win column across the league and you end up with 145 wins. Add up the losses in the loss column across the league and guess how many you get? 145.

145-145. That’s the league’s overall record as of right now. Many teams are hovering between 4-6 and 6-3 and for every 9-1, 8-2 or 7-2 team, there are those that are sitting at 3-7 as well. The Rangers have the best winning percentage at .900 followed by the Indians at .800 and Rockies/Phillies tied at .778. Otherwise, teams are either already considering making their basement stay a permanent fixture for the season or scraping to crawl their own way back to .500 while the rest is comfortably sitting at .500 looking to get better.

The Cubs, I feel are sitting in an uncomfortable .500 position. We are down two starters. We’ve been unable to secure enough run support to swing a couple of those losses to the win column and the Reds seem to be progressing every day. It’s surprising to look around and see that you’re tied with Pittsburgh ten games into the season. However I believe that they are in an uncomfortable position, not because of the negatives, but because of the potential positives around the corner. It’s uncomfortable to know that you’re this close to improving, this close to playing better yet knowing that you’re not quite there yet.

It’s frustrating to know that you have the talent and the capability and the signs are all there that you’re about to hit that level of performance that puts you over the top…you can taste it/see it, but you haven’t quite reached it yet. I believe Quade likes what he has seen lately in Barney, Castro, Colvin, Marmol and even Soriano. I believe he believed coming out of camp that he had the right mix of guys to surprise some people this year. I also believe that after Cash and Wells went down, he felt Coleman could step in and make a difference.

I believe that at .500 after 10 games, we could clearly be a game or two better possibly rooming with the Reds at the top of the division as opposed to the mid-level standings exception we currently reside in. However, looking at the league as a whole and seeing that overall the entire league is no better than .500 with only a handful of stand outs (mostly in the American League) it makes feel even better about the Cubs chances this year.

Sure, it would be fun to blow away the league and run away with it. However, sometimes, some seasons, all you have to do is stay competitive and consistently contend with those around you to make sure you are still in it come time to make that September push for the playoffs. I like that the Cubs are at least hanging in with the rest of the league and with three teams tied for second place, clearly they are hanging in their with the rest of the division.

Ten games in and the Cubs are .500. I believe Quade has them headed in the right direction though and that we’re on the upside of what the record shows, capable of winning more series and pulling away from that .500. We’re .500 now, sure, but no need to panic.

Essentially, so is the rest of the league. Go Cubs Go!

Update: After writing this, I realized something and I’m including an update instead of editing it in an effort to stay honest with you and also to point out some humor in it all. As soon as I tweeted about this new post with the headline as the tweet, I realized – wait a second. Of course the league is .500. The league is ALWAYS .500 because when one game is played, one team wins and the other team loses. ALWAYS. Except for the called All-Star game every few decades or so, every game has a winner and a loser. Thus, a .500 record across the league. The only thing that would not have made sense was if the overall league record was anything BUT .500. Ok, fine. So, maybe it wasn’t the epiphany I thought it was…but, still. The Cubs are playing .500 ball. Exactly at the level that the league can’t be worse than. The trick is to find the right mix to hang with teams like the Rangers, Orioles, Phillies and Rockies and not pull the league down like the Red Sox, Astros and Rays. Quade still has to be frustrated that he is this close to having this team perform well on a regular basis. A week ago when we were only mere games away from the first play ball of the season, it was just flashes. Then it became signs. Now, it’s clearly potential. Injuries have already affected the 2011 Cubs season but that’s going to happen to everyone. Quade needs to find a way to get this team playing better than average ball. The league average will always be .500. Right now we are average and we are two games out. Let’s start playing above average ball and see where we sit another 10 games from now. And as I told @croquet037: Next time coffee…THEN challenge the zero-sum rule! : )

Uno!

And not in a good “family game night” kind of way either.

Cubs lost to the Giants today and the Rockies defeated the St. Louis Cardinals.  At the start of the day our elimination number was holding strong at three.  After these two events, our elimination number is down to one.  And unless a miracle happens, this will be the last day of the season that I post while we’re still in contention for a playoff spot.
Wells was unsuccessful in his bid for win number 12 as San Francisco proved to be too much for him and held strong at five games out of the wild card spot.  Here now is what the American League and National League wild card standings look like:
wild card as of 9:27.pngUnbelievably the American League is down to only two teams left vying for the final playoff spot.  The rest of the league is out.  National League proved to be a little more competitive this year as five teams are still left competing.  Surprisingly, Atlanta has jumped up to second place, only two and a half games behind the Rockies after their recent six game win streak.  Their elimination number is five so the rest of this week should prove to be interesting for both the Braves and Rockies.  It’s only a matter of time (barring miracles of course) for the rest of the teams listed that are still in contention.
This is why it’s important to kick the season off fast, stay strong and finish strong.  Every game counts when you tally it all up and look at the big picture.  Those one run losses early on may not have seemed like a big deal then.  Now, you’d love to have those turn around into one run wins.  Would make a huge difference.  Play the episode of today’s Prose and Ivy Cubs Blog Talk Radio show I recorded earlier today, listed in the side bar on the right.  My take on Bradley, next year’s line up and rotation, use of the young talent, Fukudome’s worth and what it all means looking at 2010 is discussed on the show.  
Enjoy the talk now and leave a comment or two while we’re technically still in it.  One loss or one Rockies win and our ’09 will officially wrap come the final regular season game.  The rest of the way we play at Wrigley where we are much better than we are on the road.  Maybe that will matter and maybe it won’t.  Unfortunately that’s the stressful and depressing part of losing control of your own destiny.  One to go.  Will it come Tuesday?  Will it come at all?  Hope not.  We’ll see.  On top of playing at home, we’ve got Pittsburgh coming to town.  We know how I feel about Pittsburgh…wish we could play them all 162 games.  The Rockies on the other hand have Monday off as well and then face the Brewers.  Can’t imagine the Brewers would like to do us any favors.  Doesn’t look good.  But again, we’ll see.
Dempster at home against the Pirates on Tuesday.  All we can do is our part and hope for the best.  Go Cubs Go!
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Again

The Rockies have surged their way to a last at-bat victory once again and matched the Cubs sweep of the Pirates with a sweep of the Reds.  

Unbelievable.  Bring on an eight game series with the Rockies right now and let us sweep.  That may be the only way we make up enough ground to take this thing over this year.  And you know how likely that is.
Unbelievable.  Cincinnati….you disgust me.  Thanks, for nothing.  Have to keep winning or else we’re definitely through.  They sweep September and we sweep September, more power to them.  Finish strong like Lou says, our only remaining option.  Day to think about it tomorrow.  Come Friday, we need to keep this Cubs W streak going.  Go Cubs Go!

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

“We’ll always have Pittsburgh”.
I say that a lot here, but it always hold true.  Swept the Pirates today and it feels good to see the Cubs have that kind of success on the road.  But, you know then again, of course we did.  We’re supposed to beat Pittsburgh.  We’re supposed to win when Zambrano pitches.  Even post-DL Zambrano is still supposed to be a victorious Zambrano.  Outscored the Pirates by 10 runs over the past few days including a record tying performance of getting eight straight hits to start a game.  Incredible, but like Lou asked, ‘where was this all year?’
Maybe a little too late….like Lou’s pep talk.  It’s apparently lit a fire under the Cubs but now instead of controlling our own destiny, we need to rely on sad teams like Cincinnati.  They haven’t done us any favors this week against the Rockies as they keep losing and the Rockies keep matching us result for result.  At this rate we’ll gain no ground and that’s what’s so frustrating.  Relying on teams that can’t hold a light to true contenders is no way to spend September.  Yet here we are…we need to keep winning though in order to have a shot at grabbing the wild card.  The Reds are currently up 3-2 in the top of the ninth so we’ll see.  Would be nice to pick up a game tonight though.
Not sure why the media is making such a big deal over today’s date, 9/9/09, but they are.  Last year the Olympics started on 8/8/08.  Cool, but that was the Olympics.  You know what today is?  Just Wednesday.  Anyway, MLB.com took advantage with a fun opportunity for fans to select the best all-time hitting performances in a season for players at all nine positions.  Even for the Cubs, it’s not as easy as you’d think.  Cubs fans should fill it out and let me know how you voted.  Here’s how I voted:

all time hitting 9.png
What do you think Cubs fans?  Would you vote differently?  Why?  I’ll break down my rationale over the next couple days.  Wanted to get this out there today though while it was still 9/9/09.
Off day tomorrow, then back at Wrigley, Harden vs. the Reds.  Let’s hope Cincy can do us some favors there and fall to the Cubs the way they gave this past series to the Rockies.  Go Cubs Go!
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Seven Ate Nine

There is an old children’s joke that reminds me of this Cubs season. 

“Why is six afraid of seven?”
“Because seven eight nine.”

As soon as we hit seven games back I felt that it was too much to overcome and that loss ate up any chances we had of winning this thing in ’09.  Add to it the fact that the Rockies keep winning and the rest of the pack keeps losing and they are separating themselves even farther in this wild card race.

Both the Cubs and the Rockies are 5-5 over their last 10 games.  However, the way those wins and losses fell, we’ve lost ground on the Rockies and are now eight games back in the wild card standings.  I can’t believe publications and outlets like ESPN even include them on their NL Wild Card standings/contenders lists any longer.  I mean, again, it would take a miracle.  So why not list the realistic chances only.  Anyone who hasn’t been mathematically eliminated would require a miracle to make it in, so in that case if you list the Cubs, might as well list everyone.

Our line up was sorely missing Lee as his return to the lineup included a couple of home runs and a victory against the Mets.  Putting all of that pressure and urgency on Wells’ starts in September is just too much for a rookie to realistically come through with so it’s no great surprise that Wells is proving to be unable to carry his weight through September.  Zambrano’s been touch and go, Demp hasn’t done anything special and there’s been no run support for Lilly or Wells.  So in that case we have to keep hoping Wells, a rookie, figures out a way to win and it’s just been too much.

Another Cubs loss today and a Rockies win.  An unfortunate pattern as of late.  I think I had the Dodgers winning the West and the Giants taking the wild card before the season began so if not the Rockies or Cubs, I suppose for my own record, the Giants are welcome to win the WC. 

The way this season is ending will raise lots of questions in the off-season.  Another starter needed?  A closer?  A new manager?  Use some of these class, talented youngsters to get a big name to win now with guys like Soriano, Lee, Ramirez and Bradley playing and getting up there in years?  Trade any of those guys in a blockbuster trade and perhaps that will make a difference?  I don’t know.  But the off-season will provide a ton of questions, predictions, analysis and trade proposals.  Hendry will have his work cut out for him in figuring out the last few moves necessary to mold this roster into a World Champion team. 

Until then, we still have 27 games left.  Eight games out.  Has seven ate ’09?  Probably.  But if the math works in our favor, then history may as well.  And if that’s the case, the off-season business may be a lot different, the chemistry may be okay and the language we hear will be something entirely unexpected.  First of the 27: Lilly against the Pirates.  We’ll always have Pittsburgh is a popular saying here at Prose and Ivy.  Tomorrow, we’ll see if that’s still true and if so, whether it makes any difference or not in the standings.  Go Cubs Go!

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