Category Archives: Chicago Cubs

Jorge Soler was masked up today Wrigley

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This was a lot funnier until I saw the game-time temperature at Wrigley was 43 degrees. Still, by looking at Soler today you would have thought the Cubs were playing in 12 degree weather with some windchill.

This kid is from Havana, Cuba; where those tobacco fields he grew up playing on hit 88 on a cool day.

This was a magical little matinee for the Cubbies, where Kris Bryant was on base five times and collected his first big league hit. He got another key infield hit in the bottom of the 11th off Craig Kimbrel to keep the line moving. Cubbies walk-off with a win 7-6 in a game they blew a 6-2 lead in the top of the ninth. The winning hit came on a Starlin Castro single to left field. Anthony Rizzo stole two bases; baseball is odd.

The cold Soler went 1 for 6. He just wasn’t comfortable today out there. Now he can head across the street and rob the nearest convenience store.

It’s Kris Bryant Day

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Baseball is in for a real treat today – because today – Kris Bryant is hitting cleanup at Wrigley in his big league debut. In a way, this era begins exactly as it should: in an afternoon matinee to kick off the weekend at Wrigley.

The miserly-for-no-reason Cubs get to save that year of arbitration eligibility and now Bryant is up for the long haul.

As we do any time one of the generational talents to be debuts, we have a post in his honor. Hopefully after nine innings, ‘Go Cubs Go’ is playing on the loud speakers at Wrigley and Bryant does something to make this day even more memorable. It’s going to be a good decade plus of watching this ’80’ scale power in afternoon slates at Wrigley.

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It’s Easter, and there’s real, live, counting regular season Baseball at Wrigley Tonight!

First off, happy easter. Second off, HAPPY BASEBALL SEASON!

In just a few short hours, the standings will no longer be stuck on all those goose eggs. I keep thinking about how great it would be to be present at historic torn up Wrigley Field tonight. Getting to see two rivalry teams who I feel will be pretty solid kick things off.

Opening Night has always kind of felt like Christmas Eve to me – even though the first one I remember was Ray Lankford leading off the top of the 1st in 1994 with a bomb off Jose Rijo! How many Reds fans out there remember the Ray Lankford game? He ate them up that night.

And then there was my favorite Opening Night game of all-time, 1997 Yankees-Mariners at the old Kingdome (don’t try to tell me the Kingdome wasn’t beautiful looking on the inside). To an awkward 14-year old kid at the time, Ken Griffey Jr. was a God in baseball cleats. He hit two moonshots that night off David Cone to start the season on a nice even ‘2’ out of the gate. I remember doofus Chris Berman remarking ‘so Ken is on pace for a solid 324 home runs, decent’ or something stupid that Berman says and actually believing that Ken won’t of course get there, but he could hit 100!

Today, I’m sitting at my mom’s house celebrating Easter. I’m thinking about some of the things I like about tonight’s game; I’m pretty excited about Anthony Rizzo getting a piece of Adam Wainwright tonight and getting that rabid Cub crowd fired up. There’s a great read about Rizzo over on ESPN’s newly-designed baseball site that they’ve rolled out just in time for the new season.

I just can’t believe that; yes we’ve made it, and there will be a real game to react to and recap tonight. And every night following for the next six months. And tomorrow will be even better! But we still have tonight! And my mind starts to spin out of control from there.

So for those out there who are like me, enjoy Easter with your families and when that ends; enjoy tonight. Opening Night in baseball is really about celebrating the year to come in the sport that we all love. There’s nothing like it in any sport.

Chicago Cubs 2015 Team Preview

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We continue the 2015 Team Previews today with one of our favorite teams in baseball for the coming year, the Chicago Cubs. They haven’t won a world title since 1908  – we just feel like this veil will be lifted at some point in the near future with this current core. And that would be good for the game of baseball and this poor tortured die-hards who follow this team as their first love.

On October 12, 2011, the face of the Cubs franchise became forever changed. That was the day that Theo Epstein was named the President of the Chicago Cubs. You ask the common fan what Theo Epstein is up to, and they’re going to probably say ‘he’s the General Manager of the Cubs’. He’s not. He’s actually the GM’s boss, the GM is Jed Hoyer. Theo is making the overriding calls of this roster, and since he’s taken over they have an absolute haul of good young players and have made steady improvement.

The questions remains: are the Cubs ready to take the next step from respectable and lovable team to contenders in the National League Central? We believe they are, and if you click ahead we’re going to tell you why.

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RIP Ernie Banks 1931-2015

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Mr. Cub Ernie Banks passed away last night at age 83, meaning another timeless legend has left the earth forever. At a time when it seems like these generational talent ballplayers from our father’s youth are becoming extinct like dinosaurs, it’s important to remember that guys like Banks were more than just a guy with gaudy numbers.

So let me begin with the numbers

Banks played in parts of 19 seasons, compiling 512 career home runs and a 67.5 bWAR. When you ask someone what position Banks played, they’re going to tell you shortstop. But Banks actually played the second half of his career primarily at first base – something I didn’t realize until I took a look at his numbers thoroughly. In fact, he appeared in 1259 career games at first base compared to 1125 at short, mixing in 46 sporadic appearances in the outfield. This was an exceptionally versatile slugger whose best overall season came in 1959 when he had a WAR of 10.2, hit .304 with 45 home runs and 143 RBI. He won the MVP award in back to back years in 1958 and 1959.

More than anything – Banks signified a culture – known as “Mr. Cub” he was possibly the most beloved of a fan base who has been known as the most loyal and die-hard in the rich history of the game.

Banks played in an era of innocence, when players weren’t as selfish. They played for less, and they probably gave more of their time. His most famous quote was at it’s very core, about his love for the game and playing it:

“It was about 105 degrees in Chicago,” Banks told the Houston Chronicle’s Richard Dean. “And that’s a time when everybody gets tired. I came into the clubhouse and everybody was sitting around and I said, ‘Beautiful day. Let’s play two!’ And everybody looked at me like I was crazy. There were a couple of writers around and they wrote that and it stayed with me.”

If guys today are honest, they probably loathe double-headers at the present day. Double headers are loved by fans; they’re loved by kids who are in little league. They’re not loved by guys who are being paid to play the game who have other things to do when their five hours at the park are done. But Banks became known for this quote because it said everything about him by saying so little.

He also once said that digging for gold was more important than the gold itself. The reason he’s so heralded and beloved isn’t because of the exceptional numbers he put up – though they certainly didn’t hurt things – it’s because he was a great player who loved the game at his core and was approachable in a sincere manner. He’s a reminder of how innocent and bare bones the game used to be. When it was truly the soul of the country, a player like Banks was one of the reasons our fathers and grandfathers loved the sport.

News to us: Harry Caray once went out 288 consecutive nights

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I got to talking with a buddy at work today who somehow mentions that Harry Caray went out 288 consecutive days back in his heyday. They knew this because they found the legend’s diary, he said.

There’s an internet to prove my friend wasn’t lying. Harry Caray drank the fuck out of 1972.

Highlights that need documented:

Jan. 16 something unusual happens. Caray is in Miami, yet there are no expenses, just one enigmatic word, “Super.”

After that break, if indeed it was, comes 288 consecutive days in bars, not only in Chicago, but New York City, and of course on the road with the Sox, beginning with spring training in Sarasota.

The unbroken streak pauses Nov. 3, when all we get is “to K City @310.” The only completely blank day is Monday, Nov. 6 — what must THAT have been like? Then off to the races again.

[snip]

“I was out with Harry Caray a couple of times,” the Tribune’s Rick Kogan said. “It was always at the Pump Room. He was one of the most charming people in the world.”

How so?

“Drunk but joyful,” Kogan said. “It always wound up being a joyful, laughter-filled time.”

[snip]

But give Caray credit. As old-fashioned, and perhaps even pathological, as the bar-crawling seems today, there is another truth worth mentioning: Harry Caray could have taken his drinks at home. He went out because it was his job.

“He felt the bartender and bar people were his fans,” Rittenberg said. “He felt he was responsible He would stop in 10 joints. He was just a gregarious guy.”

I think I just wish that one time in my life, I could have enjoyed beers with Harry Caray. Hell, at this point I would just like to have met someone who enjoyed a drink or two with the guy.

Some things really are just larger than life. And 288 days in a row would suffice as that. I don’t know if I could handle 10 in a row right now.

The Fiers that could burn during Milwaukee’s postseason run

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Mike Fiers must have some nasty shit. In today’s 6-2 Brewers victory at Wrigley Field, Mike Fiers struck out 14 Cubs in six innings. This has to go down as one of the most impressive pitching performances of the season, and I can’t wait to see the BBREF game score with how it stacks up to Max Scherzer’s 14 strikeout performance on the same afternoon against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The one thing the Brewers lack is any type of ace with shutdown stuff. They have a nice staff compiled of guys you would consider two’s, three’s, and four’s. But prior to today you wouldn’t think there was anyone in the group capable of this – Fiers was only getting a crack at the rotation because Matt Garza is injured.

But this is something to keep an eye on we would suggest. Fiers has done stuff similar to this before; in 2012 he struck out 10 on three different occasions. Milwaukee has to keep a guy like this in the rotation and consider him being one of the fellas they roll out should they sneak into the postseason. They lack a stopper and even though it was the Cubs, they’re not a bad offensive team. This is something to keep an eye on as baseball heads towards October.

Yesterday was Javier Baez Day.

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Javier Baez career game number one got off to a great start. After the Cubs’ closer Hector Rondon blew an 11th inning lead, it was time for the heavy dramatics. Javier Baez’s first big league hit left the park and won the game for the Cubbies out in Colorado.

An amazing beginning. A great sign. We think he’ll be a .250 hitter here at best for a while but he’s going to hit some mistakes out because the power is real

We typically post a heavily-touted prospect’s scouting report before wishing him well in his big league debut. There are no great scouting reports on Baez out there on the internet for free, so you don’t get that today.

A Cubbies Matinee at Wrigley is the perfect way to kick off a Holiday Weekend

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Every now and again, baseball schedule makers do something right.

Scheduling the Cubs at home for a holiday weekend is nothing short of brilliant. I got home from work a bit early today and turned on the Cubs game. They’re gridlocked in a 5-5 game with the Phillies and it’s a game between two teams where there couldn’t be much less on the line. But oh man, to be a Chicagoan with a healthy functioning liver on this sunny day in Wrigleyville. It’s equivalent to a life in paradise. And win or lose – they’ll celebrate in Chicago tonight like it was a make or break day at the old ballyard today for the futile Cubs.

You know they’ll be twisting doobies with that extra recovery day coming Monday. You know they’ll be drinking those delicious cold 312’s like they’ll only be sold until 2 am and then never offered again. They’ll stumble back to their shanty’s in this big city and then wake (and bake) and do it all over again tomorrow morning like it’s a college football campus.

I can’t wait until the Cubs get good again because I’m going to go up to Chicago and join in the fanfare myself. For the meantime, there’s no better place for baseball to begin a holiday weekend than Wrigley Field, even if the Cubs are once again mired in the throws of mediocrity.

The Magic Continues in the City of Angels for Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers

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Summer is dwindling, but the Dodgers and Yasiel Puig are staying white-hot.

Puig put another ballgame together. He collected three hits tonight – his 31st multi-hit campaign of his rookie season already – and the Dodgers beat the Cubbies 6-2 late night out in Los Angeles.

A slashing double to right field. A smoke single through the left side. And then this Hollywood bomb about halfway up those neat old yellow bleachers in left field at Chavez Ravine in the bottom of the 8th inning to seal it. Look at the way the ball explodes off his bat, almost unnaturally, almost as if it shouldn’t have been a pitch hit with that trajectory.

In the past 20 years, there’s probably never been a time to have been a Dodger fan like right now. They have it good. This… this is what it must feel like to be on the top of the baseball world at one moment. They’re at that coveted spot.

Yasiel Puig Kicks off the Weekend Early in Chicago with a Wrigley Bomb

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We kind of had the feeling Yasiel Puig would do this last night in his first game in Chicago. He seems like the kind of guy who likes to start a weekend early – and start the weekend early he did.

The ball was flying out of Wrigley last night like crazy. The Dodgers won the game 6-4, their 12th straight road win. The highlight was clearly Puig catching this low breaking ball and hitting it deep into the Chicago night. Look where this damn shot lands.

The thing is, Puig looked so terrible on a few swings early on in this at bat. Then he adjusted and crushed it. And that is the quality that reminds me of Manny Ramirez in young Puig.

We’re not going to blog about all his bombs, but we saw this one live; and it put the stamp on another Dodger win. This was just before Kenley Jansen entered in the ninth and blew away the Cubs for his 15th save. Right now this Dodgers team is easily the most dangerous team in baseball. I have no problem attaching my name to that statement.

Rank Relief: Someone from the Cubs who is not Carlos Marmol

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Michael Bowden watches Jay Bruce’s game tying double roll to the wall

The Cubs were at it again tonight but this time Carlos Marmol somehow stayed out of the spotlight.  The Cubs are not a great team but they have Theo Epstein so they will probably win a World Series soon despite severed goat’s heads.  Tonight it almost seemd liek they would steal one from the Reds.  In the top of the 13th the Cubs were able to score 2 runs off of Alfredo Simon on a home run by Luis Valbuena.  Going int the bottom of the inning up by 2 runs seemed like a good position to be in.   Nobody told Michael Bowden though.  This is what happened:

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Giving up 4 hits in one inning is a good way to blow a lead.  2 singles, 2 doubles, and 3 runs put the Reds over the top and hung an L on around Michael Bowden’s neck.  The Reds have had few one the good side and few on the bad side.

Side note:  It seems like the Reds have played 32 extra inning games.  In fact they have only played 4 and gone 2-2 in them.  Why was I so confused?

Rank Relief: A double dose at Wrigley

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When you see a rank relief post you always have a good chance of the Cubs being involved – usually the bad side.  Well today they played both parts.  The Cubs were looking at a 2-0 victory if they could hold off the Giants in the top of the 9th.  Well Kyuji Fujikawa would have none of that.  Cubs fans may have thought they got rid of this kind of thing with Carlos Marmol.  History and a goat’s head says otherwise.  Here’s what Fujikawa did:

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One inning, 3 runs.  Not what you want out of your new closer.

But remember this is a double dose of rank relief.  Sergio Romo was also feeling generous today.  Trying to capitalize on the second save chance of the game he entered in the bottom of the 9th.

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Details of how Romo gave up the save and the win and moved Fujikawa from the loss to the win column.  The best part is giving up a home run to Dioner Navarro.  Baseball is funny sometimes.

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Tonight, John Axford out-Marmol’d Carlos Marmol

To update a situation we’ve been following rather closely, we want you to actually prepare to have your mind blown.

Tonight in a game at Wrigley Field, the Cubbies defeated the Brewers 6-3 in a game the baseball universe will forget forever in 24 hours. The key to take home is that John Axford was actually responsible for Carlos Marmol getting awarded a win.

Axford did his usual dance steps, entering the game and promptly got Alfonso Soriano to fly out to center. The Hurricane Axford storm clouds were only brewing at that point (no pun), though.

In the bottom of the 8th of a 3-3 ballgame, Axford allowed a double to Nate Schierholtz and a couple of walks. Of course, those men would all score after Axford was removed from the game.

This prompted this Brewers fan to create the ever creative hash-tag of #wiscohatesyou.

The lesson to be learned here is that; when John Axford and Carlos Marmol both dress in uniform and are in attendance at the same ballpark, someone is shitting the bed. There’s just no getting around it. Also, if John Axford’s goal ever becomes getting hit by parked cars we have full confidence in him. If ever a guy was on a roll getting hit, Axford’s certainly found his groove.