Category: Dailies

When It Rains It Pours

Can we schedule a rain delay more often?

After a long rain delay, the Cubs offense caught on fire. Finally. And even got a few (lots) of hits with men in scoring position. 7-for-13 with RISP? Can I get a Hallelujah?

Enough runs to survive another rocky bullpen outing. Production from the entire lineup. Garza survived the rain to pitch very well. Castro returned from his mini-vacation. Pena remembered that not all at-bats must end in a HR, K or BB. It’s fine to hit a single or double every once in a while. Especially with men on base. Quade didn’t try to get just one more inning out of a starter, and allowed the relief pitcher to start a fresh inning.

Hallelujah. A Good Day At Wrigley.

Oh, and I promised not to talk about the future plans of He Who Shall Not Be Named until the season is over. You’re welcome.

If the Cubs bats don’t look hot again today, I’ll be the guy standing on the roof at Wrigley, dumping buckets of water on the home plate umpire.

The sun’ll come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun!
But can we have rain again today?

Party Like It’s 2010

Ouch. A tough loss to the defending division champs. The Reds, as expected, are very good.

The Cubs continue to get on base… and not score.
The big RBI guys, including Ramirez and Lee, continue to squander opportunities with men on base.
Lou Pinella shuffled the lineup a bit, again, trying to get any production with runners in scoring position.

Wait. I’m getting an urgent tap on the shoulder from Doc Brown. Apparently, this is 2011. My humblest apologies. Replace Pinella with Quade, Ramirez with Ramirez and Lee with Pena. That looks about right.

If we’re going to turn back the clock, can we pick a year where we got clutch hits? Umm… hold on, I’ll come up with one… 2008 (pre-playoffs of course)? 2003? Never mind. 1984? We have a winner. Someone find me Sutcliffe, stat. And get Moreland out of the radio booth. Where’s Sandberg? The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs? What? That’s either the greatest name in the history of organized sports or the worst. Prep the DeLorean for 1984, Doc. And this time, Durham – watch the damn 5 hole. That was doubleplusungood.

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Time to get going. It’s a long season – but it’s getting shorter.

This is like déjà vu all over again.

All Games Are Not Created Equally

After yesterday’s absolutely, atrociously ugly affair (by both teams), the Cubs get a huge win today against the class of the division, the Cincinnati Reds. This was a game the Cubs needed, and needed badly. And it didn’t look good for a while…

Coleman gave an outstanding start against the always tough Arroyo… and Quade gave it all right back trying to squeeze that extra inning out of a tiring starter. I love ya Q, but it is far easier for a relief pitcher to start a fresh inning, than come in with two men on base and no outs. Stop it. Stop it now. He wasn’t breezing through the game. He was running on fumes. Just Stop it Now.

Welcome to the lineup Blake DeWitt! A homerun and the game winning run in the 9th probably earned you some more playing time.

Today’s Cubbie Occurrence was when the apparent game winning hit by Baker bounced over the wall in CF – for a ground rule double – holding the game winning run to third. From ecstatic cheers to oh, my god I hope the Reds don’t win the game after that in 10 seconds. But that only lasted long enough for everyone’s favorite Japanese import Fukudome to win the game five pitches later.

But, today’s man, myth and legend is the much maligned Mr. Carlos Pena. He has obviously finally read the top-secret internal memo: If you want to hit a homerun with the wind blowing in at Wrigley – stop hitting it 500 ft straight up. The wind will eat that alive. Line Drives please and thank you. Huge Clutch Hit.

We can’t realistically say that the Cubs are contenders… yet. So this was just another divisional game for the extremely talented Reds. They are very, very good.

But this was far more important to the Cubs – a huge, emotional win to get them rolling on a very tough homestand. These are the kinds of wins that CAN jump start a team. Cross your fingers.

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Is it tomorrow yet?

The Russians Are Coming!

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!
Hmm, I mean, the Redlegs and Redbirds are coming!

The Cubs bid adieu to the West Coast, and settle in for a hectic month. Lots of home games. Lots of division games. The defending World Series Champions. A trip to Fenway.

And to start it all off… a Reds/Cardinals/Giants homestand. Very, very tough.

In April, it was easy to say that it’s early, there’s plenty of time left in the season. And there is. But this is a month to take advantage of. Win series at home. Get back above .500. Make sure that the division rivals lose a few games.

The rotation is starting to hit its stride. The bats are heating up.
Garza starts us off after setting a Cubs record for most strikeouts in an April (51!).

WOLVERINES!!!

Cancel the APB – Dempster and Pena have been found

Cancel the APB. End the CPD stakeout of Dempsters home in Wrigleyville – that “Pinella’s Pizza” truck wasn’t fooling anyone anyway. Contact the Illinois National Guard. Alert the Special Agent in Charge. The search is over.

Cancel their AWOL status.
Ryan Dempster and Carlos Pena have finally reported for the 2011 baseball season.

It’s unfortunate that they were unable – for personal reasons – to join the team on April 1st, but we are very excited for their arrival.

Dempster turned in his first quality start of the season (after a 9.58 ERA in April).
Pena hit his first homerun of his Cubs career (and ended a dismal 3-37 stretch).
Castro is on the cover of SI.
Barney is the NL Rookie of the Month.
Cashner may be pitching to real, honest-to-goodness hitters in Arizona by next week.
Wells may not be far behind.

Dempster and Pena are not only important pieces for this team, they are important leaders of this team. And it’s hard to lead effectively when your own house isn’t in order. Hopefully, this is that elusive spark the Cubs need to achieve escape velocity from the muddy pool of mediocrity.

Oh, and the Cubs win!
We’re #5! We’re #5!
One step at a time.

Good Riddance to Alarming April, Welcome to Marvelous May

It’s time to recap April, locate those kernels of hope, drink the blue kool-aid and look forward to May! Woooooooo! May!

After a rough start, the Cardinals promenaded their way back to the top of the division, with the rest of the teams mired in the mud within a few games of the .500 Reds. The Cubs? Right about where most people expected them to be. I was hoping for better, but there are plenty of reasons why a 12-14 record in April is exciting…

  • The Starting Pitching has not been good. Not good at all.

What was hoped to be a strength struggled through the monsoons of April, the injuries to Cash and Wells, and the disappearance of Dempster. The Cubs rank dead last in the NL in quality starts (it’s not even close), team ERA, and walks issued. Garza and Big Z have 7 of the 8 quality starts. The Cubs still managed to win 12 games.

  • The Bullpen was a little bit Dr. Jeckyll and a little bit Mr. Hyde.

Marmol, Marshall and Wood have been very, very good. Samardzija has been shockingly useful. It’s almost as if he realized this is the last year the Cubs are going to be paying him. The rest have been up and down and up and down. Although, with even a little bit of starting pitching, the Cubs won’t depend on them nearly as much. Despite the ups and downs, and the fan-favorite All-Bullpen Days, the Cubs still won 12 games.

  • The Offense has mainly consisted of Castro, Barney and Soriano.

Zambrano is tied for THIRD on the team in homeruns with 1. Soriano has almost as many homeruns as the REST OF THE TEAM COMBINED (10 of 21 total). Barney has more RBI than Ramirez (14 – 11). Pena is SOMEHOW hitting worse than last year. Unsurprisingly, the Cubs are 12th in the NL in runs scored. The Cubs still won 12 games.

  • The Cubs do not lead the league in Antidefense, but they’re close.

Not every Cub feat of antidefense shows up in the errors column. Thankfully. There have been enough botched run-downs, missed bunt assignments, dropped fly-balls (it’s not just a south-side disease), Dunston like throws to first base, throws to the wrong base, and pigeon attacks in the outfield – to lose a few close ones. The Cubs still won 12 games.

  • Quade is learning on the job.

Early in the year, I admonished Cub fans to trust in the Quade. I’ll stick to that. He IS getting better. The Quade is sticking with a struggling and/or tiring starter less often (trying to squeeze that ONE more inning out of a pitcher is almost always a big bucket of Fail when facing major league hitters). Heck, he even got thrown out of a game for the first time. And then promptly admitted being wrong for arguing (after seeing the replay). Despite some puzzling batting orders (always overplayed in the media), and lack of Tweeting from the clubhouse… the Cubs still won 12 games.

The Cubs have hit just well enough to hand off some leads to the three headed monster in the back of the bullpen. And that is enough to go 12-14. Despite a lot of room for improvement.

So I’m proudly drinking the Blue Kool-Aid out of a glass that looks half full. 3.5 games back after significantly under-performing for the month? Sign me up.

Now, bring on May. Cardinals and Reds at Wrigley? First road-trip to Fenway?
This is the Month!

Prescription for April Anxiety – More Homers

I’ve got a bad case of the Aprils. April Anxiety. So I needed some help.

I decided to go see Dr. Brando:

P.J.: What’s wrong with you?
Brendan: I don’t know. I am not right.
P.J.: Dude, you are sick, okay? Just go see a doctor.
Brendan: No. No doctors.
P.J.: No doctors? What are you, like a wounded bank robber?
Brendan: My health insurance got canceled. I have no choice. I’ve got to go to Dr. Brando now.
Bobby: Who’s Dr. Brando?
P.J.: He’s the doctor that lives inside his head.
Brendan: Went to Harvard medical school.
Bobby: Inside your head?
Brendan: Whatever dude, it’s Harvard.
P.J.: Anyway, it’s Brando’s self-diagnosing, usually using the internet. And the last time he did it, it did not go very well.

Dr Brando’s prescription for April Anxiety was easy. More homers. Who am I to argue with a Harvard trained physician?

Back to back homers for the first time this year? (So-ri-ahhh-no! and Soto!) Check.
A Second helping of Soriano? Check and Check.
Quality start by Zambrano? 6 innings, 2 runs. Check.
Domination from the three-headed monster of Wood/Marshall/Marmol? 3 innings, 3 hits, 4 K, 0 runs. Check, Check and Check.

Soriano is locked in. And anyone who has watched the Cubs knows, that when the Fonz is locked in – you just get out of the way. It doesn’t last the whole year of course :)P But it can certainly be fun to watch. Soriano now owns the record for the most homers ever hit by a Cub during a month of April (and the team has been around awhile… as other fans like to point out).

Wins can settle a team down. Good Zambrano was joking about settling down after giving up a ‘cheap homerun’ to Justin Upton. (It sailed 455 feet into the second deck – and I was afraid they would have to alert the FAA)

Let’s get another one today. May is just around the corner, and I’m excited.
Remember Cubs, the prescription is more homers. Trust Dr. Brando.

Oh, and Jordana Spiro? Call me.