All posts by TheNaturalMevs

Just how good are the Chicago Cubs?

The Chicago Cubs are, without question, one of the top-rated sides in Major League Baseball and will fancy their chances of advancing to the World Series next season. Despite their best efforts, the Cubs were knocked out at the final hurdle, losing to the New York Mets in the NLCS game. The Mets went on to face the Kansas City Royals in the World Series for the biggest prize in baseball.

While this was a huge disappointment, Chicago played incredibly well throughout the year and will take great heart from their performances this season. Next year, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the Cubs go all the way for the first time since 1908.

In the regular season, the Cubs scraped into the playoffs after recording a 97-65 win/loss ratio, which was good enough to secure third place in the NL Central. Manager Joe Maddon will be particularly impressed with his side’s resilience throughout the campaign and will know that, after a full season of being in charge of the Cubs, he has the full support of the team, fans and hierarchy after an excellent year in Chicago.

Continuity and stability are the two main traits for success and they are both exactly what the Cubs need right now. After failing to reach the World Series in the post-war era, Chicago are finally on the brink of the big time.

   by  rexhammock 

Next season, the Chicago Cubs are one of the leading candidates to win Major League Baseball’s World Series. At the time of writing, bet365 price them at odds of 8/1, along with the Toronto Blue Jays – who are also an exceptional side.

While it may be a little too early to suggest that the Cubs can justify these odds, they are certainly a strong outfit and will be full of confidence after their positive showing in the postseason. As previously mentioned, they must improve on their regular season form in order to build momentum next year but they must not peak too soon or else they risk burning out in the playoffs.

Compared directly to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Cubs are on par with the Canadian outfit. Both sides are favoured by the bookmakers but we have a full offseason and free agency period to get through before the 2016 preseason begins.

Toronto are looking to win now, and they exercised their options on star right-handers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion earlier this week. While the Cubs arguably possess the more complete team unit, the Blue Jays have a number of top impact players who are capable of winning matches with superb individual efforts.


Simply put, the Chicago Cubs are VERY good right now. In fact, they may be the team to beat next year. Despite losing 4-0 to the Mets in the final stages of the playoffs, the Cubs are in a great position and with some solid work in the offseason, they will challenge for the World Series next season. With Maddon at the helm, Chicago are in fine hands and their supporters should be excited about their chances in 2016.

   by  Michael Rehfeldt 

What does 2016 hold for the Chicago Cubs?

Now that the dust has settled, 2015 will be largely seen as a successful season for the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs got to the NLCS game where they were beaten by New York Mets to deny them the opportunity to take part in the World Series and face Kansas City Royals for the biggest prize in baseball.

The Cubs could only finish third in the NL Central as a moderate record of 97-65 was only good enough to pick up one of the wild card spots for the post-season.

Despite an average result season record, manager Joe Maddon will be particularly pleased with the form his players showed in the post-season under the pressure of knockout baseball. They were able to win on the road against Pittsburgh Pirates to earn a spot in one of the National League series where they then overcame number two seeds Los Angeles Dodgers after holding their nerve to edge that series 3-2.

The Cubs’ run in the post-season fell short as they were comprehensively beaten by the Mets 4-0 in a short series which put an end to their season. It is the first time the Mets have contested the World Series since 2000 but they are at the time of writing 3/1 with 32Red Canada to win the championship after losing the opening two games of the series.

The focus now for Maddon and his players will be how they can improve for 2016. They will be aiming to better the 97-65 record which was only good enough to be the number five seeds in the National League. The NL Central is arguably the strongest league in the MLB at the moment so it won’t be easy trying to top the five team league that also includes St Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Maddon joined the Cubs in the off-season and he took over a young roster which has really grown with experience as the year progressed. They are likely to be near the top end of the betting with 32Red for the 2016 Championship as there is a lot of young talent in the ranks which will only get better over the next couple of years.

David Price on the radar for Maddon
 by  apardavila 

The priority for Maddon in the off-season will be to find a starting pitcher to improve his roster. Jake Arrieta has a superb post-season and was one of the key reasons as to why the Cubs advanced as far as they did with victories over the Pirates and Dodgers where they were underdogs in both ties with Pinnacle Sports. There is not much depth for Maddon to call upon to be able to rotate throughout the 2016 season if they are to be strong enough to go all the way.

Jon Lester put pen-to-paper on a deal to make him their highest paid pitcher last year but beyond that there really isn’t enough quality.

If Maddon can find a reliable pitcher, with the Toronto Blue Jays’ David Price rumoured to be on his wish-list, they could have enough in their ranks to really fancy going all the way in the 2016 championship.

Dexter Fowler’s future could lie elsewhere

by  Keith Allison 


Dexter Fowler was a part of a trade back in January which saw the big hitter join the Cubs from Houston Astros, with Luis Valbuena and Dan Straily going in the opposite direction. That bit of business looks to have paid off as Fowler finished the campaign with a .250 average and scored 102 runs. He particularly stood out in the off-season against the Pirates in the wildcard game where he recorded three hits, scored three runs, had one RBI and stole a base.

There have been some suggestions that Fowler could leave Chicago ahead of the 2016 season which would be a blow. If he does leave, Maddon will need a capable replacement.

Maddon has looked to bring in players of a certain age so expect a replacement to be in their mid-20s. Jason Heyward has been linked with the Cubs and would be a solid replacement. Not only is he a solid hitter with stats to back that up, he is very good fielder with a strong arm.

With one or two strong signings in the off-season, the Cubs could be one of the favourites in the betting for the 2016 World Series with TitanBet and other bookmakers when they bid for their first championship since 1908.

Your Saturday Baseball Post


There are only two games today, and college football has really taken center stage. But it’s LCS Saturday, and the Cubbies and Mets kick things off in Queens tonight.

Leaves are on the ground, the fall nip is in the air, and for the first time it really feels like October baseball all around us. We definitely needed to give homage to this with a Saturday baseball post.

Hopefully you don’t miss too much of the action because you’re being into going somewhere to watch the Ohio State Buckeyes trounce Penn State. This Cubs game tonight will be tight and full of drama! The only thing that would have made it perfect is if it would have been at Wrigley.

Soon enough.

Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers and the greatest game on earth. Enjoy your Saturday, all.

Chicago Cubs move on to the NLCS


[Box Score]

It’s hard to believe this was the first time the Cubs have clinched a postseason series on Wrigley Field soil in their history. It’s hard to believe that Fernando Rodney and Clayton Richard got holds. I thought the Cubs were in trouble when Travis Wood was on in relief before the fifth frame was completed.

But the Cubs have such star power, and in our opinion their brightest start got the biggest hit.

Anthony Rizzo, with the death blow. It’s nearly a carbon copy of last night’s home run:

Monster home run from forgotten man Javier Baez that swung the entire momentum of the game, while you were driving home from work. Kyle Schwarber with the exclamation point home run that left Wrigley.

Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon were electric in the 8th and 9th. The energy at Wrigley Field was absolutely incredible. This is a team worthy of watching in the NLCS, and they’ve now knocked off the team with the best record in baseball. This is the beginning of a long and glorious run for the Cubs, and it’s good for baseball.

Betting on Baseball

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This one hurts a little bit to write.

It looked like the Houston Astros were going to move on to a freaking LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES for crying out loud. And then, things fell apart. That ball took an unlikely hop over Carlos Correa’s head in the best game of his career. And those upstart, pest, Royals are once again fixin’ to spoil everyone’s fun.

We had dreams man; dreams of the Astros making the World Series and playing the Cubs in something that would be totally fresh for the game of baseball. Something so different than what we’ve seen before.

And I’m here to tell you that today, that all went away.

You know how it goes in this column. Whether we’re letting someone else pay the juice or we’re paying a little bit to win the Ben Franklin, we’re just simply picking the winner. Wednesday night at 8:05 PM, Johnny Cueto opposes Collin McHugh in game five of the LDS. The game will be in Kansas City. The Royals are a -131 favorite at the current moment with the Astros hanging around at +121.

It really sucks, but the Astros are going to lose game five in Kansas City. And I’m sorry if that makes me a bad person in that I don’t really like the Royals; but they don’t do much for me. They cease at entertaining me. They just don’t. I realize they’re a small-market who is ‘all-in’ and went out to get Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist and look how cute they are because they’re this close to getting back and avenging game seven from last year and look how fast they run the bases! But I don’t care. I don’t like them.

It’s just the way it is. You want a winner, and we’re feeding you one. We are totally surprised the Royals don’t check in as a bit higher favorite right now to steer you away from the winning side. But that will probably happen by game time. Get to the best online sportsbooks while you can and grab the Kansas City Royals -131 to make a little side dough.

We’re sorry Astros; leave the party kicking and screaming!



No matter what happens from here, Cubs fans will always have this one night at Wrigley Field. And holy Hell, was that as fun as it looked or what?

The top six players in the Cubs lineup (Fowler, Soler, Bryant, Rizzo, Castro) all hit pretty tremendous home runs deep into the Chicago night. The wind was blowing out, and the Cubs powered past those evil rotten Redbirds from St. Louis 8-6.

Our favorite was definitely the Anthony Rizzo bomb; his first hit in the playoffs:

Sure, the Cardinals hung four runs on Jake Arrieta which is impressive in it’s own right. But Arrieta was nasty enough to strike out nine and get the Cubbies in control of this series.

Tomorrow at 4:37 eastern time when the sun is still in the sky; some late afternoon baseball will against be played at splendid Wrigley Field. We are really hoping this series wraps up tomorrow night and the Cubbies roll onward. Maybe Back to the Future was right all those years ago.

There’s baseball at Wrigley Field Today


One of the most magical days of my life was when I visited Wrigley Field in Chicago. It was an absolutely, picture perfect day from start to finish. That day, we decided that it was one of the most magical places not only in baseball but in all of the world. That day, we decided that the Cubs were not an NL Central evil, but rather something that should be treasured by those who love baseball.

Today, playoff baseball returns to Wrigley Field. It’s the first time since October 2nd, 2008 when the Cubs lost to the Dodgers 10-3. That team was built around Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot, Derek Lee, and Aramis Ramirez. Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano started the first two games of that series. Good old Rich Harden took the loss in game three of that LDS series and the Cubs were swept. This team has a bit better foundation. We knew they would win the other night to ensure at least two games at Wrigley Field.

Tonight at 6:07 PM EST has the makings of a classic: the best pitcher in baseball at the moment Jake Arrieta takes the bump opposing Michael Wacha who is always solid in his own right. The Cubs have a golden opportunity to take control of this series and really as a -210 Vegas odds favorite, something weird is going to have to happen for them not to do so.

And we love it. There’s nothing more boring than the Cardinals grinding out 2-0 wins in the playoffs. It makes us want to move on to another sport. These Cubs however; they’re a breath of fresh air. They’re something new. And it would be good for the sport the longer these guys are alive in the playoffs and that huge market and their rabid fans get to live out the hopes of lifting the curse of the Billygoat and Steve Bartman!

So toast your 312 ale! We’re pulling for the Cubs to do this.

Betting on Baseball Saturday 10/10

A real wiseguy, Jimmy the Greek
A real wiseguy, Jimmy the Greek

Anyone looking for today’s casino bonuses will realize that they can grab the Chicago Cubs as a nice underdog this afternoon in St. Louis. The Cubbies are a +122 underdog currently at the Las Vegas Westgate for instance, with Kyle Hendricks opposing lefty Jaime Garcia.

The Cardinals Cardinal’d the shit out of the Cubs last night. That’s what the Cardinals do. They get home runs from Tommy Pham and great pitching performances from guys like John Lackey who was pumping 95 MPH gas and getting strike calls several inches off the plate. When those things are happening, the public is going to get slaughtered (Jon Lester probably had a huge public backing) and the casino’s and sportsbooks will absolutely slaughter you.

But DO NOT be swayed by all this. The Cubs are a good team. On name recognition sure, more people are going to know 10-6 Jaime Garcia and his 2.43 ERA. Kyle Kendricks is a solid 25-year old pitcher in his own right who has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last three starts. Meanwhile, Garcia has allowed four or greater earned runs in three of his last four.

This series is going to get evened up today. The Cubs have a lineup with lefties who OPS at a .772 clip against left handed pitching. They can get to Garcia tonight in St. Louis, and they’ll do just enough to get this series to Wrigley all tied up.

It’s hard to believe in all this time, the Cubs and Cardinals met for the first time in the playoffs last evening in their history! I would have missed that trivia question.

Our pick is the Chicago Cubs +122 on the moneyline. Go with the Cubs and make it a winning day.

Go Cubs Go


It’s a Friday night in October. We have nowhere to be, and nowhere to go. The Cubs are playing playoff baseball, tonight against those rotten Redbirds. The only thing that could make this one more picture perfect is if Harry Caray and Bill Murray were toasting at Wrigley Field. Or if the game was being played at Wrigley at all.

The Cubbies think a changing of the guard is taking place in the National League Central. We certainly think they’re the more talented team on paper.

There’s just something that scares us about the Cardinals. They’re pesky. They’ve never needed to be good ‘on paper’ to go to a World Series and ruin an entire October of playoff baseball. They can take over the entire world with Thomas Pham and a can opener.

Just like tonight; it will be a dogfight and probably even a loss for the Cubs. You’ve got John Lackey opposing Jon Lester. Lester is nails in the playoffs. Everything should line up for the Cubs to take game one and get at minimum a sweep or two playoff games at beautiful Wrigley.

Yet we know how this works out for the Cardinals and this time of year. And their Cardinal way bullshit. The Cubs are our playoff horse and we hope they can give us something to really pull for into the next round. Lets end that curse of the Billy Goat together.

The Reds are sticking with Bryan Price


Well, this is really bad news.

Walt Jocketty will do nothing as usual, announcing that Bryan Price will return as Reds manager in 2016. Price boasts about a .430 winning percentage in two seasons as the skipper of this downtrodden club.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel. All hope for a better future, a way out, something to look forward to next spring; have just gone out the window.

I have nothing more to comment on the Reds at this time. They have amazed me.

The Houston Astros close down Yankee Stadium to open the 2015 MLB Playoffs


[Box Score]

Dallas Kuechel on three days rest was no problem.

For the first time since this blog has been in operation, and the first time since they were an American League team, the Astros are in the playoffs and have won a game, sending the Yankees home with a 3-0 win at Yankee Stadium. This loss comes a day after CC Sabathia announced he was entering a treatment facility for alcohol addiction. While distractions in baseball are often overblown, you have to wonder if this didn’t play a role in the Yankees coming out a bit flat.

Houston collected just five hits, two of them home runs from Colby Rasmus and Carlos Gomez. Another an RBI single by Jose Altuve. And now they’ll move on to continue their season in Kansas City against the reigning American League Champions.

It’s a pretty great story that this group of kids have risen from the ashes of a near 100-loss team to become one of the finest Cinderella stories in the game a year later. Phenomenal job by the Astros front office to put the pieces in place to get this done.

Has Jay Bruce played his last game as a Red?


Jay Bruce finished his 2015 season with 26 home runs, 87 RBI, a .226 average, and a .729 OPS. He was essentially a replacement-level player with an 0.1 WAR.

Reds fans are clamoring; actually begging, to trade him for a bucket of balls and move on. I have a feeling the Reds will oblige.

I am not sure what happened here. In all of my years following the game of baseball, there’s never been a more enigmatic player I’ve like and followed than Jay Bruce. It’s been said many times on this page. When he was good and on a hot streak, there was often no one better in baseball. But he didn’t have many of those hot streaks in 2014 or 2015 that pulled you in and made you believe. In about 1200 plate appearances over the last two seasons, he was a .222 hitter with a .695 OPS.

We just can’t defend it. It makes no sense when you look at the player that once was. And although Bruce never reached his peak that some (including us) expected, Bruce hit 208 home runs in a Reds uniform (and a couple in the postseason) and had a .780 lifetime OPS with at times, a gold glove caliber defense in right field.

He was a good guy in the clubhouse, and a remarkably solid guy off the field. He was durable, and fun to watch. If indeed the sun has set on our favorite Reds’ career, it’s been a good run even if it never quite worked out how we figured.

We just wish we knew what took place for things to get so corrupted here towards the tail end.

A Gentleman’s Cup Series Champion has been Crowned!

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Friday night was a landmark night in five men’s lives. Now as a footnote in the whole thing, Diamondhoggers won the final Gentleman’s Game of the year to avoid the basement, and finish tied for third place with our own t3bird04.

But the real story, was the battle between DStars45 and Swindaman3. All year long it was like Apollo Creed vs. Rocky Balboa, these two heavyweights slugging it out one weekend at a time. Rumor has it that the two did not even speak for six weeks down the stretch while trying to decide who would come out on top of this duel.

And in the end, Swindaman3 had his opportunities granted to him by his fellow gentleman. They stayed out of last place, leaving the door open for Dstars45 to find himself there; with a win, a tie-breaker match would have been forced between the two Gentleman at the top of the standings.

However, Swindaman3 in his time of need reached for the likes of Ervin Santana and Torii Hunter which proved to be a fatal misstep. He did however, post an impressive 30 points from Luis Valbuena which is the kind of thing you need to do to win a Gentleman’s Game.

Yearly Standings:
DStars45 – 81.5 Points ** GENTLEMAN’S CUP CHAMPION **
Swindaman3 – 79.5 points
Diamondhoggers – 72 points
t3bird04 – 72 Points
Jsquad34 – 69 Points

Here’s a copy of the final winning lineup from Diamondhoggers. You’ll see that no gentleman tallied 100 points, this is the kind of Gentleman’s Game muck that’s just fit to rake for Diamondhoggers, winning with total slop.

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SO what will happen next week? Well these posts sadly disappear until next spring. By then a few new Gentleman will want in this. But we will be selective as to whom will get in our midnight club. You think you’re good enough? Send an email to diamondhoggers_at_gmail dot com and let us know why you deserve to be in the gentleman’s game. If we get some responses, we’ll post them on the site each week and just possibly invite a new gentleman to the game.

Other than that, we’ll miss the fun and exposure we had to eachother from afar in our contests. The memories. C.J. Cron’s backside dump single at one in the morning meaning something to all of us. The little things.

Congratulations to our first Gentleman’s Cup Champion, DStars45. His DFS excellence shines through in this contest of warriors.

The season has ended, before it did Bryce Harper dealt one more fatal blow to the Mets


[Box Score]

Saturday was a special day for the Nationals, even if it were in futility. Bryce Harper connected with his 42nd and final home run of 2015, a game winning titanic blast to right field that won the Nationals the game 3-1. He ended the season on 99 RBI, 42 home runs, and a .330 batting average.

Of course, in the nightcap Max Scherzer had one of the most dominating pitching performances ever in getting his second no-hitter of the year.

But for me, the moment of the day was a limping Bryce Harper (he took a Noah Syndergaard 96 mph fastball off the shin earlier in this game) getting off the mat to take an MVP hack and win his team one more ballgame.