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Five Burning Questions : The Two Month Mark

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Every so often you will hear somebody say, “a manager knows what type of team he has by the end of May.”

I, for one, would love to hear a serious response from Joe regarding his assessment of the 2015 Cubs to this point.  I mean, one day it looks like they could battle the best and then some days the youth really starts to show.  It would be unfair to assess this type of team up to this point and give them a label.  I prefer to think of this years Cub team as a fine wine…it has aged well in storage for a few years and is probably ready to drink, but has it reached it’s potential for even the 2015 season let alone further down the road?

At any rate, it begs for another series of Five Burning Questions and here we go!

(Imagine a drumroll…)

Question 1: Who is your Cub MVP through the first two months of the season?

Mine is Anthony Rizzo. Until the trip to Petco, which is pretty much kryptonite for Rizzo, he looked great.  More importantly he is taking on the leadership roll of this young team, which is funny, because he too, is still quite young.

Question 2: Which Cub, that has consistently been in the lineup (pitchers included), has you concerned?

It hurts to say this, because I chose him as Rookie of the Year, but Soler has me a bit worried.  His potential is off the map, but he can’t hit the off-speed pitch.  He is like Jobu from Major League.  I am waiting for chicken bones and stuff.  He has made some nice fielding plays, and has a pretty good arm, but until he learns to hit a breaking ball, my guess on ROY is going nowhere fast.

Question 3: Who will be traded by the deadline?

This can be anybody in the organization aside from Bryant, Rizzo, or most of our starting pitching in my opinion.  I have been saying for years that Castro’s time as a Cub has been limited , but every year he sticks.  It is tough to find a good Major League shortstop.  We would have to get starting pitching back, but I feel this is one area we have a surplus in is up the middle.

Question 4: Who is the better broadcaster, Jim Deshaies or Steve Stone?

Unlike many here, I don’t mind Len and Jim.  Their horrible wit is sort of growing on me.  If you have the MLB package and get around to it, listen to some of the other dry sacks out there.  I would rather watch turtle poop slide down a log.  That being said , I actually like Jim better than Steve Stone.  Stone was always too much of an arrogant know-it-all and really irritated me.

Question 5: Do any of you play daily fantasy baseball?

You have seen the adds all over TV for sites like Draft Kings and Fanduel.  I am curious to know, with all the stat heads we have roaming this site, if any of you play Daily Fantasy Baseball?  If you do, what are your thoughts?  I started a little last year and have to admit, did not like it all that much at first.  However, I decided to start over with the 2015 season. I started to learn how to use the stats and my goodness if I wasn’t an advanced metrics guy before, I am becoming one now!  If you like the statistical/probability side of baseball this may be for you!  I play at Draft Kings and I like their format.  If you have been curious and want to give it a try, here is a link .  My username is chester0711 if you want to take me on in a head-to-head game some time (no high dollar stakes please, still just having fun with the small buy-ins).

That’s it for now. Throw your answers in the comments below and lets have some healthy debates!

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They Told Me It Would Be Better Someday

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Being a fan of this team prior to the second half of 2014 was akin to being passed through the lower GI of baseball.  To say the practice of being a Cubs fan from 2010-2014 was a grind is a massive understatement.  The Cubs previous five seasons were usually decided by this point in April and to be honest, even if they mess the sheets this year, I feel as though we got some sort of bonus time as winners.

Originally, when I grabbed this spot prior to the start of the month, I kind of thought I would be writing a piece about patience and dealing with young talent.  I thought I would be saying things like “give the kids a chance” and “He’s only XX years old and it’s April.”

As a Cub fan, I don’t want this April to end…ever.

Today I’m going to share some thoughts  regarding our newly constructed ball club on the north side of Chicago.  I have three things I need to spew and then you feel free to spew forth your three things and then we will all have spewed three things we have noticed so far.  We have all probably gushed enough over the performance of this team over the past month, however, as the month ends we need one more gushing.  Why? Because we deserve to gush, it’s been a while, ya know what I mean?

Walk with me……

Thought #1:

If Kris Bryant never hits a dinger but keeps hitting the way he has this month, I will take it.  With exception of his first game, which I am beginning to wonder if that was even Kris Bryant or a proxy of some sort filling in, the guy has been nothing but pleasant to watch at the plate.  His play at third, which I kind of expected to be a disaster, has been more than enough for me to feel he can stay at that spot.

Thought #2:

Dexter Fowler doesn’t get enough credit for his play thus far.  Now Dex hasn’t blown anybody away, but he may be the best leadoff option since Juan Pierre in a Cub uniform.  He has very quietly cobbled together a nice first month and does his job of setting the table for the other guys behind him.

Thought #3:

I like the Jumbo-Tron and the new signage, but when they finally open those bleachers it’s gonna be pretty cool.  The April crowds have never been great but with no bleacher creatures it makes Wrigley seem quite docile.  When I watch on TV it feels like a minor league game for the most part.  This will sound crazy but if this team can keep it going, the opening of the bleachers mid-season may provide a nice little emotional boost for home games down the stretch.  Imagine showing up at the ballpark mid-season and all of the sudden gaining 10,000 new rowdy fans every home game.

Anyhow, I feel like I wore the rose-colored glasses for years and they’re finally in style.  I am glowing like a pregnant woman in her second trimester.  Go Cubs!

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Game 12 Notes – A Good Win On A Weird Night

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Cubs (5) @ Pirates (2)

W: Jake Arrieta (2-1)

This was a long night of baseball and it was filled with some weird incidents.  Instead of waxing poetic about the Cubs first week of the season I will get right into the game notes…

First thing is first, Arrieta pitched a beauty of game, but the way the first inning went, it looked like it was going the other way.  After the first inning he kept the ball from leaving the infield with exception of a hit or two. Kris Bryant had a nice night at the plate going  3-4,  BB, 4 RBI’s (in fairness, he also hit into a double play with RISP and 1 out but we’ll let that pass for now).  Soler went 4-4 making his presence felt yet again.  This team is getting fun to watch people, fun, fun, fun.

  • The first three innings were slower than erosion. There was a 45 minute rain delay to start things off.  A woman was hit in the head with a foul ball behind home plate, it was  fouled straight back and actually hit the net and then hit her while she was being seated in the first row by the usher.  It looked awful and made for a 25 minute delay, last report was that she was okay, which is what’s important.  To cap it all off Arrieta stepped on his own hit and was called out.  That sounds weird and it was the first time I have actually witnessed this, but he took one of those wild pitcher hacks at a pitch and slapped it straight into the ground.  He then proceeded to step on the ball clumsily and was called out. Only a pitcher could accomplish this feat, but if it were a true Cubbie Occurrence Arietta would have sprained his ankle and spent a few weeks on the DL, instead he want on to throw a gem of a game….so we got that going for us.
  • I am wondering if the Pirates want their money back on Jung Ho Kang?  Outside of being unable to hit MLB pitching thus far, he managed to throw a ball into right field that could have started a big inning, but it didn’t because we like to hit into double plays with runners in scoring position.  That being said he has been a disaster since spring training started.
  • Pirate catcher Francisco Cervelli reminds me of Francis (AKA, Psycho) from the movie Stripes…just a thought.
  • So back to that full moon thing, there was a double challenge tonight!  In the top of the 5th Rizzo was called safe on a bang bang play at home.  The play was challenged by the Pirates and they won, he was called out as a result of the challenge.  Joe Maddon immediately re-challenged the play, as it appeared that Cervelli was blocking the plate.  I have to agree, it looked like classic blocking the plate, but Joe West and company did not, he remained out.
  • More strange stuff, Bryant hit the ball and scored on the same play, but it was not a homerun.  The hit itself would have made it to the seats in 90% of the ballparks in the league, but Pittsburgh’s left center field is cavernous.  Literally, I think there is a cave back there somewhere.  Nonetheless, he crushed a 99 mph fast ball and continues to prove he is Major League talent.  Find a highlight for yourself somewhere as it would take me too long to explain what happened.  It’s worth the watch though….
  • In the 8th inning the stadium started to erupt in Hyena calls. The Cubs were at the plate and it went on for most of the inning. I can’t make this stuff up.  The Five Thousand in attendance were having some fun.


1959 -At Wrigley Field, Stan Musial breaks up Glen Hobbie‘s no-hitter with a two-out seventh inning double. The 23 year-old right-hander settles for a one-hitter, going the distance in the Cubs’ 1-0 victory over the Cardinals.

1966 - The Phillies obtain Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl from the Cubs in exchange for future Hall of Fame hurler Ferguson Jenkins, outfielder Adolfo Phillips, and first baseman/outfielder John Herrnstein. The pair of right-handers will post a 47-53 record collectively for Philadelphia as Chicago’s new moundsman will win twenty or more games for six consecutive seasons starting in 1967.

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It Matters Again, and that’s a Good Thing

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

This past weekend, as I combed the Cub universe for news and tidbits, I stumbled across a warning flare of sorts.  This little diddy about Jon Lester and his “Dead Arm” sent me for a small spiral.  Strangely, I smiled, thinking how long it has been since I cared about a Cubs ace and an arm injury? Five years? Six maybe?

Along with that were the commenters across the webosphere talking of doom and gloom…

“Here we go again” yells one put out fan.

“What do we have to do to win a World Series in this century”, Screams another with just the right amount of pitiful to sound like a Cub fan, “no chance if Lester goes down!”!

I mean, it is good to see fans thinking this way, and honestly, something in me is caring again about the Cubs fortunes, but let’s not get crazy, we ain’t goin’ to the World Series!  I started thinking about all the heartache and discontent I spent as a fan for the last few years and I thought up the timeline below.  This basically charts out my years as a Cub fan, a modest, yet proud, 17 year stretch, which goes something like this….

1997 – A 14 game losing streak to start the season, Sandberg retires for the second time, and Harry Carey dies. My first visit to Wrigley Field.

1998 – Sammy Sosa, Kid-K , Brant Brown, a post-season

1999-2002 – Wind screens (it feels like there was a whole lot of nothing here?)

2002 -2003 – Mark Prior, Dusty Baker, and Bartman (no , it wasn’t his fault)

2004 – The Chip Carey / Steve Stone era ends with some drama and a disappointing season

2005 – 2006 – Towel Drills and blisters (much like the 1999-2002 gap, a weird bunch of nothing?)

2007-2009 – Lou Piniella, some fairly average teams that I believe over-achieved, Sam Zell, and Milton Bradley, which gave me a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach before the ink could dry on the contract.

2010 - The Cubs have new owners, and Ron Santo Dies

2011 – Ricketts hires Theo Epstein & Co.

2011 -2013 – The team is disassembled, it feels like a cleanse of some sort, but came to the realization that we will not win for a while because we are doing the largest rebuild ever, of not just a roster, but the entire Cub system, way of thinking, way of life.  I think they even changed the hot dogs that the vendors sell.

2014 – Theo’s rebuild starts to gain steam along with Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant and Renovations followed by more rooftop drama

2015 – ???

There is torture, misfortune, and then just plain confusion.  It’s gonna take some more heartache to undo what has already been done to the Cub fan base over the last 75 years (trying to think of every fan still alive, not just my timeline).  I felt desperate at times and other times completely disconnected. There were some seasons where I checked out by July and others where I hung on every pitch until the last fatal blow.  Here we are getting all excited again because we have a few good prospects (one great one), a true staff ace, and a new outlook on life from April to September…dare I say beyond?  The vision that started about three quarters the way down that timeline above is now taking hold, but what is realistic?

It seems not a day goes by that I read something sensational about Kris Bryant and an overly positive prediction for the Cubs as a whole but I have to admit, I am a little pessimistic. There will always be a pessimist inside me as a Cub fan.  Until that final out is recorded, because of all the other final outs and the way they came about, I will hold out all hope and wait, as a burned fan being cautious. I am damaged goods!

Look what the Red Sox fans had to endure! Hell, they had to come back from insurmountable odds and a couple prior trips to the post-season to win that first series.  We aren’t the Marlins for god sake, we can’t just rip it down and retool inside of a season. We have way too much bad mojo debt built up to make this easy.So Lester going down for a few games in spring is just a blip. Shake it off because we’re gonna need to get tougher for what’s coming.

The Cub fan (AKA, damaged pessimist) in me realizes, as you should, we may not go to the post-season this year or next, but take some solace in the fact that there is a plan in place, it is working, and Cub baseball matters again, and that’s a good thing.


As a little side note, here is a piece by Joe Posnanski that I like to read before each Cub season.  In a way, it is a roundabout explanation of the Cubs history and a set of theories as to why haven’t been able to win it all. It is fittingly titled “The Cubs”.

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Five Random Predictions for the 2015 Chicago Cubs

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

As you can see from the myriad of posts around the blogosphere it is prediction season where Major League Baseball is concerned. Writers are cobbling together their thoughts on the upcoming season and the topics span just about everything under the sun.

Admittedly, over the past 4 years or so I could have cared less as to who would be the team MVP, most improved player, comeback player, or for that matter LVP (Least Valuable Player). The season was usually assumed to be over by May and predictions for a potential losing team are voiced to pass the time.

However, we seem to have the potential to not only compete this year, but some outlets have us contending (I think the contending talk is still crazy, but I guess a guy can hope!) This makes predictions a little weightier and more fun to write.

Anyhow, for the new and improved 2015 Chicago Cubs, I give you my predictions…..


Rizzo will get the Cubs WAR title, once again……

There are a few people who could win this title.  I have a real good feeling about Jorge Soler this season.  I am probably higher on him than any other player on this team.  The table is set for Jorge to explode on to the scene.  That being said, I don’t think he will overtake Rizzo.  Rizzo got the title last year with a 5.6 WAR and I think he needs to get up to 6.0 in 2015, which he will do, to grab this title again.In 2014 the closest to Rizzo was Jake Arietta with a 4.9 WAR.  The next closest position player was Castro with 2.9 WAR and then it goes down hill.

Along these lines, if I had to make a sub-prediction, I would say we have at least three more guys with a WAR above 3 for the position players.  Counting pitchers it could be four or even five, considering Lester is pretty much automatic for anything above a 3.5 WAR.

2015′s lineup is sure to be even better and that should help Mr. Rizzo.  All things considered, and barring injury, we should expect big things from Anthony this year, as he will have a full season with the likes of Baez and Soler hitting on either side of him….or possibly Mr Bryant????

Which brings us to……


Kris Bryant probably won’t get NL Rookie of the Year………

Okay, before we start rioting on my front steps, understand something, this years rookie class could be incredible.  If all goes as planned with Kris Bryant, and if Jorge Soler stays healthy, the Cubs could have two rookies in the top 5 this year for the NL and that will be really good.   I still think Bryant strikes out too much and I highly doubt that area of his game will just improve moving up a level, usually it goes the other way and weaknesses get exploited.

Plus the fact, this is my breakout year for Jorge Soler.  As a matter of fact, I think Soler gets ROY in the end, as he strikes out a bit less than Kris Bryant, and has a few weeks in the majors under his belt already. Bryant finishes about third on the list.  Not shabby at all!!

I am looking at guys like Joc Pederson, Archie Bradley, and possibly Yasmany Tomas out west as major contenders if no Cubs grab it.  Then again, it could be a pitcher like Noah Syndergaard, Jonathan Gray, or Andrew Heaney.  Everybody I mentioned here could be there at seasons end.


Jon Lester will be worth every penny……… 

If I had to choose among the free agent pitchers this past off-season, Lester and his contract get my vote.  The real comparison comes between Lester and Scherzer in reality, and considering Wrigley field and it’s dimensions, I will take the ground ball pitcher every time.  Scherzer, with the past benefit of pitching in a cavernous Tiger Stadium, is a bit more of a fly ball guy (Scherzer’s ground ball percentage = 38.8% vs. 46.8% for Lester) The difference between a few more ground balls and a few in the air at Wrigley could be the difference between saying, “Worth every penny!” and “Maybe we paid too much?”

Can you imagine how tough Lester will be in the cold with the wind blowing in? He could start off 6-0! Okay maybe 5-1.  Plus, the transition from A.L. to N.L. is usually a good thing for a pitcher.  Worth every penny, I say!!!!


The Cubs/Ricketts family will eventually own every rooftop surrounding Wrigley (eventually, maybe not all of them this year)…..

…and the Cubbieville neighborhood the Ricketts are trying to build and develop will be complete.  I have this vision that Wrigley, and quite possibly a square block around Wrigley, will become something close to an amusement park and in all honesty, I could care less.  What was once a quaint little neighborhood with a ballpark nestled in the middle turned into a gong show when businesses started monetizing the rooftop viewing perches that you now see. I remember the good old days when you knew a guy, that knew a guy, that lived in one of the Wrigleyville brownstones surrounding the ballpark.  The acquaintance got you on the roof and $15 bought you into a few kegs. Some dude was cooking hot dogs on a Smokey Joe in the corner and the buns might have had mold on them, don’t know and don’t care.  It was pure in so many ways and has since been bastardized.  The romance is gone!

I liken the current rooftop situation to eating at hooters, you do it once to say you did it, after that you realize there are better options.  The last two times I experienced a rooftop (both corporate affairs) I actually watched maybe 20 minutes of the game. I then sat inside in a loungey, swanky atmosphere (nothing says baseball like teak, dirty martini’s, and white leather) and watched the game on a flat screen TV with the other hundred or so people crammed into the third floor bar. I think maybe five people sat on the actual rooftop.

They should keep one rooftop open as an attraction in the new Cubbieville theme park, but they should rip out all the splashy stuff, throw a dude in a tank top and a bad tan up there and tap a keg.  The experience allows one to sit on a tar roof with a cold hotdog and a red solo cup of Old Style. The view is over the edge of the parapet, and I hope you are in the front row if you want to see the game!


Joe Maddon will do something entertaining……

The Cubs have ruined many a manager.  Similar to my Detroit Lions, the Cubs are the kind of place where managers careers go to die.  The only guy I can think of in the last 30 or so years, that managed a team for an extended amount of time past his tenure with the Cubs, is Dusty Baker.  Find me an ex-Lions head coach who was a head coach after the Lions?  None! Nada! Cubs are the same running joke.

I sort of feel like Maddon is just crazy enough to do it.  Some will say a manager has little influence over the outcome of a game, those who believe this are also people who never followed a team that had a good manager.  It is quite possible that the manager can only effect a small bit of minutia within the game, but they can have a deep effect on the season as a whole.

Joey Madds has been known to do some wiley stuff, he will do something to give the writers something to write about, mark my words!  His season opening comments thus far have been warmup.  I can just see it now, Joe Maddon walking a goat into the stadium on opening day, or maybe he is caught stroking a black cat in the dugout?


Okay, so that’s it for ridiculous predictions from me, what do you have? Sound off in the comments and maybe we can keep a running total of crazy predictions throughout the season and see who wins.






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My Grandmother and Mr. Cub

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Looking back it seems somewhat ridiculous really.  A piece of paper with a quick message and a signature on it. For years my grandmother and her twin sister attended the Duke Children’s Golf Classic, which up until a few years back, was held in Durham,NC and raised money for Duke Children’s Hospital.  Picture the Pebble Beach Pro-Am without the Pro golfers and big name A-list celebs.  A large majority of the players were ex-athletes of various professional sports.  They definitely brought some decent names to the tourney and by no means was it a small ordeal.  My grandmother had a few favorites that she looked forward to seeing each year, but there were two that stood out for her….Sonny Shroyer (Enos from Dukes of Hazzard) and Ernie Banks. She told me Ernie always had time for his fans. He would hang around and take a picture or sign an autograph and acted like it was his pleasure to do so. Prior to her mention of Ernie Banks, I wouldn’t really say I was a Cub fan.  Growing up in southeast Detroit makes you a Tigers fan, and I loved the Tigers and still do.  However, to this day I blame Ernie Banks and my grandmother for making me a Cub fan too. It sounds crazy but on my birthday in 1987 my grandmother handed me the little piece of paper you see attached to this post, one that I have kept ever since.  It instantaneously made me a fan of a team I would come to learn were known as “The Lovable Losers”. I didn’t start out a huge fan as I was for my Tigers, but a good fan from afar if you will. It is nutty the little things that can happen to make a 12 year old child find interest in a sports team.  A hat from an uncle, a mitt with a facsimile autograph in the palm, or a piece of paper with a signature.  Moving to Chicago some 10 years later would seal the deal for me. Sometimes, all it takes is a kind gesture from an athlete passed on by a grandmother, and a team gets a new fan.

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Looking Forward, and Liking It?

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

It was New Years Eve, and to be honest, I don’t get up for it as much as I once did.  I rarely go out of the house on New Years Eve anymore.  Maybe it’s my age,  or maybe it’s being married with two kids under five and the desire to sleep and not stay out until 2 am and dump a mortgage payment on the babysitter+dinner+drinks+Uber? Another reason is it may very well be the single largest amateur drinking night of the year (your chances of being thrown up on go up by at least 40%) or maybe it’s the resolutions and the resolution-esque questions?

Are you going to eat better food?

Are you going to workout more?

Are you going to be more financially responsible?

Are you going to be nice to people?

And then of course they give you their super grand dazzling New Years resolution that nobody would ever think of on the face of the earth, because they are just such an overachiever and awesome and 2015 is going to be their year! Fast-forward 11 months and they will be the same miserable sod on Thanksgiving that they were exactly one day prior to the previous year ending.  If anybody actually remembered your terrible resolution this far into the year they could throw it back in your face for completely failing at life.  However, nobody ever remembers ’cause nobody cares!  But by all means post it all to Facebook so the world now knows how awesome your going to try to be.  I’ll be the first one to offer up a cheeseburger and fries at your weakest moment…promise!

So anyway, this year, I went out on New Years Eve. It wasn’t bad, Minneapolis tends to be more tame than Chicago and the spots we picked were full but not annoyingly so. The booze flowed freely and so did the questions but I got one that I actually answered with a little better than a canned answer…..What are you most excited for in 2015?

My Answer?

The Chicago Cubs.

I know, I know, it’s not like the promised land is, well, promised.  But at least the land we will live off of will be brighter and sunnier with a little lest decay.  I guess what I am trying to say is the season will mean more past April and maybe, just maybe into August?  To compete would be good, and I think we will to some degree.

I do however have just three wishes for 2015 in regards to the Cubs….

1) Please don’t let Kris Bryant be a bust.  He won’t be, but I would be sad if he is less than awesome.

2) God, help Javier Baez find plate discipline. It does not have to be military grade discipline, maybe we start with not setting a record for strikeouts?

3) Keep Jon Lester healthy and let him prosper in the NL.


There, see I don’t ask much.  Really these things should be expected, right?

And your wishes are?





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The Post-Season Concoction

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

If you were constructing a playoff team what would your recipe look like?  Would you litter the starting lineup with OBP and power?  Would you stock up on a stable full of studs for your rotation?  How about the bullpen, is good enough actually enough? What about fielding and baserunning, are these critical to the post-season equation?  Do managers matter…ever?

As October baseball once again washes over me, and as a fan of a developing Cubs team, I am left wondering what it takes to not only make it to October baseball, but what does a team need to advance through the bonus month?

After watching the Tigers, Dodgers, and Angels get eaten alive in the opening round I began to wonder, what did the Orioles, Royals and Giants have that those teams did not?

My hunch throughout the playoffs was that the Royals success lies somewhere in there fielding and pitching.  Sure enough, a quick look at Fangraphs and you will see that the Orioles and Royals both place in the top third in most defensive categories.  They are not far off that mark where pitching is concerned either.  Meanwhile, the Tigers for instance, have a dominant starting staff and massive offensive numbers, but a bullpen that probably would have trouble getting out of an inning with the Mudhens.  Let’s not even start with their defensive liabilities that litter the diamond.  There weaknesses showed up tenfold the second the competition heated up.

All this being said, what about the Royals, Orioles, Giants and Cardinals?  Surely their weaknesses will haunt them? One thing I found prominent in each teams success is that sixth tool…..luck.  Okay, call it timing, clutch, mojo, whatever floats your boat, it’s all the same.  The Royals are defying the regular season stats and have found some offense in the post-season.  All of the sudden Mike Moustakas. who was sent down for a spell at the start of the season, is Mr. October.  Couple that with the surging Eric Hosmer, who hit well in the regular season but not .400 well, and you have the makings of a magic run.

The playoffs have a way of sorting out those weaknesses and showing them in full light at the most inopportune times.  My bet is the Royals real offense shows up.  My bet is, if they grab this third game from the Orioles, those weaknesses will prevail in the World Series.  Those hitting stats from the regular season are bound turn their ugly head, or at least come down from their otherworldy perch and make winning a much more difficult task.

But I digress, I wanted to know what you thought was the right mix for a post-season birth and then a run.  What makes the Cardinals, the Cardinals? (I can’t wait to see these comments) What makes the Giants appear so beatable in the regular season and then turn them into a juggernaut in the post-season?  Where did the powerhouse Dodgers fall short? What’s your post-season concoction?

During this post-season, when I start to think the Cubs are getting close, I look at these teams and compare.  Depending on the team I compare them too, they can look real far away from the ultimate goal…or really close.





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2008 Cubs: Great team or overachievers?

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

I remember the last time I looked at the Cubs as a winning ball club.  It was 2008, what a summer! The Brewers were second in the NL Central with 90 wins.  The Cubs division title was no cheap feat as they won it by 7.5 games!  They had the most wins in the regular season of any National League team with 97.

I remember thinking Ryan Theriot and his .307 BA were the answer at shortstop.  Mike Fontenot was growing on me quickly along with a gutty Reed Johnson.  It was Geo’s first full season with the Cubs and in my opinion his best.  I didn’t think we would need a catcher for quite some time.

Then the playoffs happened…..

The Dodgers crushed any hopes Cub fans had of a post-season run to the series by a 20-6 margin over three straight games.  The headlines during the series and after the third game read like this….

“Curses (and Reverses) Distracting”

“Cubs thumped by Dodgers again, on cusp of heartbreak”

“For Cubs, it’s a tale of two seasons”

The first one is unique and I enjoyed reading it, which is why I gave the link.  It brought back all the Cubbiness of that 2003-2008 stretch.  I had almost forgotten about the amount of “Curse” talk and mystical hubbub that surrounds this club when they start winning.  I had no idea the team hired a Greek Orthodox Priest to perform an exorcism in order to vanquish the curse of the Billy Goat!!! Holy Hell, for real?   Apparently it was the chairman’s idea (whoever played that roll back then), the players and Piniella were unaware until they saw it on TV.

Anyhow, where was I? Oh yah, the last time I viewed the Cubs as a winner was six years ago.  The question I keep asking myself is, How good were they? Were they really that good, or did they overachieve?

As I type this the Cubs are finishing off a win against the Reds…their fourth in a row.  Something feels different about this team and the team we may see over the coming year.  I get excited to see Rizzo, Baez, and Mendy hit.  I caught myself running to the TV to watch Rizzo tonight…..rewarded with a homerun (his 30th).  I haven’t run to the TV to watch a Cub hitter since 2012 and it was Rizzo then too.  Prior to that it was 2008 and it may have been situational and not a specific player, I don’t remember it was so long ago.  My point is, this team is exciting again.  They may not be the refined version of what they are to be, but it’s a start.

Now we get Soler who, if healthy, will put on a show at some point.  That’s five hitters including Castro that make the Cubs worth watching again.  Some people think the tipping point for this team happened weeks ago with the call up of Baez.  That could be true but we may start tipping a little faster tonight against the Reds with new Cub Jacob turner on the mound and Soler in the lineup.  Now, Turner could get racked pretty badly and my whole thesis is blown, but we are getting real close to the future here.  We now have five very talented bats in this lineup and I have not even mentioned the rentals we signed to fill gaps that have played above and beyond this season.

We will probably win ourselves out of a draft pick in the top 5 over the next few weeks, but I could care less and I think the management is starting to feel the same way.  At some point it’s time to start winning.  It’s good for the soul.

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