Archive for the ‘General’ Category

5 Things a Cub Fan Needs to Know on September 19

Saturday, September 19th, 2015

The Rivalry is Alive

It was a heated game yesterday at Wrigley Field with the Cubs facing the Cardinals. The Cubs got off to a fast start and put 3 runs up on St. Louis starter Lance Lynn in the 1st inning. Anthony Rizzo, Tommy La Stella and Starlin Castro all drove in runs in the 1st. The Cardinals came back to tie the game with 2 runs in the 2nd inning and a run in the 5th inning. Immediately after the game was tied up, Castro hit a 2 run home run in the bottom of the 5th, but he wasn’t done. The next inning Castro hit a 3 run home run to extend the lead to 8-3, which would end up being the final score.

During the game, there we’re some moments of tension between the two teams. In the 5th inning, Matt Holliday was at the plate, who was playing in his first game back from a long DL stint, and he was hit in the back of the helmet on a wild pitch by Dan Haren. He seemed to be fine, and was taken out of the game for a pinch runner. It was later revealed the he was going to be taken out of the game anyway, as he had not yet been cleared to run the bases. Both teams were given a warning because Rizzo had also been hit by a pitch. Then in the 7th inning, Rizzo was hit for the second time, this time in the back of the leg by Cardinals reliever Matt Beslile. Beslile was then ejected along with Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. I have a feeling that this is just the beginning.

Castro’s Resurgence

Since Castro was removed as the Cubs everyday starting shortstop, he has been terrific in a utility role starting at multiple positions and providing starters with rest. In that time he has hit .356 with a 958 OPS, compared to his numbers starting of .236 batting average and .575 OPS. It has been great to see him embrace his new role and go out to compete and do his job every time he takes the field. This productivity is great from the position he is in and would be great to keep around, but he is also doing a lot to increase his value in trade discussions.

Success Down the Stretch

How about Kris Bryant in these last 2 months? I knew he was playing well but I never realized how well. In August and October, he is slashing .333/.432/.605 with 10 home runs and 33 RBI’s. He has put himself solely at the top of all ROY discussions with his second half play, where other candidates have faltered. He did not start in the game yesterday, but came in later as a substitution. He will look to pick up where he left off in today’s game.

Closing the Gap

With the win for the Cubs yesterday in an early game, added pressure was put on the Pirates to win last night against the Dodgers to keep the Cubs 2 games down. They were not able to overcome the roadblock that is Zach Grienke and fell in the first game of the series. The Cubs are now just 1 game back from the first wildcard spot and a home playoff game. It will not get any easier for the Pirates, as they will have to face Clayton Kershaw. This could be the day that we catch Pittsburgh.

What’s On Tap?

Travis Wood is scheduled to get the start for the Cubs today against Michael Wacha of the Cardinals. The Cubs have found great success against Wacha in previous matchups this season and will look to keep the trend going as they try to win their 5th straight game. Don’t expect to Wood to work deep, as it’s been tabbed as a bullpen game.


1935 – The Cubs win their 16th consecutive game as they beat Carl Hubbell, completing a four-game sweep of the Giants. The mark is the most since the 1924 Dodgers won 15 straight games.

1955 – Cubs’ infielder Ernie Banks hit his fifth grand slam of the season to establish a new major league mark, but Rip Repulski’s 12th inning homer off of Jim Davis proves to be the difference as the Cardinals beat Chicago, 6-5.

2010 – Standing on third base, Tyler Colvin’s chest is punctured when he is hit by a piece of Welington Castillo’s shattered maple bat. The Cubs’ rookie outfielder, who will not play another game this season, scores on his teammate’s double, but leaves the game in the bottom half of the inning to be taken to a hospital.

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5 Things for Cubs Fans to Know on September 18

Friday, September 18th, 2015

1. Game Notes (Cubs win, 9-6)

I should admit, going into this series with the Pirates I was filled with some degree of trepidation, and I closetly hoped for a split, because that just seemed reasonable. And I’m a reasonable guy. I mean, going into Pittsburgh, in September, with the division on the line, facing their best pitchers, and with a doubleheader included, what kind of a maniac thinks we can win 3 of 4 games? I am very glad to have been wrong here.

Yesterday afternoon’s getaway day game was a fun one to follow, and as I am a high school teacher for a living, I have shamelessly reached the point where I just announce score updates in class, as if all of my 9th graders care. This is character education, kids. Until the 5th inning, we were all sweating this one pretty badly. After the magic of the 12 inning win that came the night before, I wasn’t expecting being down 4-3 to end well for us. Thankfully, things just exploded in the 5th. Pirates starter Charlie Morton was tagged for 6 runs (5 earned), mostly off of a 2 run HR by Anthony Rizzo (his 30th this season), and then RBI singles from Addison Russell, Tommy La Stella and an RBI double from Clayton Richard.

Speaking of Richard, he picked up the win after coming in for Kyle Hendricks, who only lasted 3 innings. Richard allowed 2 runs himself, but Justin Grimm and Travis Wood combined for 2.2 innings of scoreless relief to hold the lead, even as the Pirates added 2 runs in the 7th inning. After some frightening performances from our bullpen, Wednesday night and yesterday’s work were good things to see.

2. Kang out for the season

Pirates rookie Jung Ho Kang is out for the season, as announced a few hours after yesterday’s game ended. The impact that his will have on the Pirates (and consequently, the Cubs), is of course unclear, but he had been having an excellent year for Pittsburgh, and it’s unfortunate that it came on a Chris Coghlan slide.

In the hopefully unlikely event that the Cubs fall short, the Pirates are the team that I would be happy rooting for. This is the time of the season when teams have to hope for someone else to step up, so we will see what happens for Pittsburgh, and we will get to see first hand very soon, as they’ll be in Chicago next weekend (FYI – I’ll be at Saturday’s game of that series in section 240, say hi if you’re at Wrigley that day too.)

Ultimately, the Cubs will try to capitalize and the Pirates will try to overcome, but things appear to be tilting in the Cubs’ favor, even before the Kang injury.

3. Soler wins championship, returns to Cubs to win another.

Chances that Jorge Soler wins a Mills Cup and a World Series in the same season? Crazier things have happened. Either way, he was activated from the DL yesterday, following his helping hand in the high A Myrtle Beach Pelicans winning their Mills Cup championship on Wednesday night.

Soler should be back with the team today and ready for the immensely important Cardinals series at Wrigley that begins this afternoon. While the Cubs have done a fine job of winning without him in the lineup, it will be nice to have him back. This could mean more starts for Coghlan at 2B, which muddies the middle infield again, but I trust Maddon to navigate that problem.

4. Standings watch

This is just a daily occurrence, by now, and how refreshing. It has been a solid 7 years since September baseball was so important. After the success of this week’s series in Pittsburgh, the Cubs are now just 2 games behind them and have a very solid 8 game lead over the Giants for the Wild Card. The Cardinals still sit 6.5 games ahead, but hopefully this weekend proves to be a key turning point toward overtaking them in the division. Even if that does not happen, the chances of passing the Pirates and being able to host the play-in game rather than travel to Pittsburgh are looking very, very good. Winning the division is not totally out of reach, but passing Pittsburgh is a far more reasonable goal when it’s this late in the season.

Take a minute today to check out the Postseason Probabilities graph that has on their website, courtesy of Baseball Prospectus. Its’ very interesting.

5. What’s on tap?

This series is perhaps one of the biggest of the season, and the week ahead of us poses the best opportunity for angst and possible divisional victory. The disconcerting thing is that the pitching matchups against the Cardinals are not exactly ideal. Sunday’s matchup involves Jon Lester, so that’s at least encouraging, but this afternoon and tomorrow are a little scary.

Today, the Cardinals are sending Lance Lynn (11-10, 3.17) to the mound and the Cubs are answering with Dan Haren (2-2, 5.31). *pauses to bite knuckles and fight back tears*

The one possible ray of hope is that if Haren can at least eat some innings and limit our bullpen’s workload today, that will limit the damage. As you can tell, I don’t have a lot of faith in him. I should note, however, that his best start in a Cubs uniform came against the Cardinals, when he threw 7 shutout innings in St. Louis on September 7, so all may not be lost.

As for me, I’ll be shouting score updates at my 9th graders while they try to read Of Mice and Men this afternoon.


1999: Slammin’ Sammy Sosa becomes the first player in major league history to hit 60 homers twice. The Cub outfielder, who hit 66 home runs last season, blasts his milestone round-tripper off Milwaukee hurler Jason Bere.

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GirlieView (09/17/2015)

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks.)
  • Top 10 of the 2015 Season = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard.)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims.


  • Is it Emelio Bonifacio? When is the last time you saw a player with a first name and last name that ends in the letters I and O?
  • Donnio Roachio.
  • Dan “Homerun” Haren
  • And to think we gave up Jr Lake, I guess a little rain must fall even in the brightest of front offices.
  • **cough – Edwin Jackson – cough**
  • Anyone notice the Royals have been hit by Chickenpox? Who is their team physician? Jenny McCarthy?
  • Despite a couple of homers recently – I think Rizzo needs an extra day off every now and again. He’s tired. Infield pop ups = tired.
  • At the beginning of the Lizzie season, I never thought I would be ranked so highly. J Swan is much funnier than I am, EVW is just a solid wit. Raker is a putz, but a verbose one, and I did not count on Noah moving across the country and diminishing his volume. Oh… did I get off topic.
  • Surprising no one, Arrieta was named the National League pitcher of the month for August.
  • Maybe Sandberg can carry Dave Martinez’s bag. He wouldn’t be the first Sandberg to do so…………
  • That didn’t take long.
  • the ability to draw a hard earned walk is the quickest way to my heart.
  • Jake is in great shape, he isn’t going to be fatigued by pitching 112 pitches instead of 100
  • And, quite honestly, if the Cubs do lose that game, I think I’d be rooting for the Pirates. That fan base deserves it, and I’d love to see Ramirez win one before he retires.
  • Starlin Castro has been tremendous in the new role as part-time starter and bench player. I think it shows great character that he didn’t let his demotion get him down
  • Nice tantrum by Grimm after getting yanked in the 7th. He looked like a spoiled 10-year old.
  • JD said it was ok for grown ups to act like that. His job is high stress.
  • Len said Richie Blackmore from Deep Purple would have similar tantrums when something went wrong on tour.
  • Was wrong about Lester today. He had a very good outing. The pen did not.
  • That seems worrisome.
  • The bullpen strikes fear into the hearts of no one, with the exception of Cub fans. Very mediocre – and not good enough to take us through the post-season, I’m afraid.
  • Did Lester NEED to come out with 105 pitches? Was he gassed, or was it just the “Magical Arbitrary Number of Pitches Allowed by the Modern Day Baseball Gods?” thing again? I’m waiting for the Packers to pull Aaron Rodgers in the fourth quarter of game this season – for having already made 50 passes. Or maybe “Fowler’s coming out – he’s reached his 25 swing limit for the game.”
  • Lester’s lack of run support has a lot to do with the 2 out black hole he and Ross create.
  • That’s an excellent point, Michaer. One of these days Lester is going to have to quit being such a Primadonna and pitch to Montero or Schwarber.
  • As soon as Strop came in I poured myself a shot to numb the inevitable pain of what’s to come.
  • To be fair though maddon didn’t start an outfielder that couldn’t throw more than 20 feet
  • Maddon has been enthusiastic about their play all season long, commending his troops in moments of excellence and encouraging them when it goes awry. It’s no secret that the team loves Maddon; his personality is genuine, and he consistently involves his entire team as Cubs box scores are often littered with pinch hitters and defensive replacements. Any way you spin it, Joe Maddon has been a fantastic manager this year.
  • Seriously, in the WS, it’d be a tough decision on who to DH for…Ross or whoever is pitching. Well, okay, not seriously, but you get the point.
  • I begrudgingly agree. Mostly because you outsource yard work.
  • The village idiot got lucky with a kick save – and survived the 8th. Let’s have a parade.
  • our 7-8-9 inning “guys” all shit the bed
  • also, the BP ‘pooped’ the bed, because we’re not supposed to swear here
  • Babies and dogs poop. Babies and dogs are cute. There’s not a whole lot of cute in the bullpen for the Chicago National League ballclub.
  • Grimm is a mental case. He should be able to suck it up, but the bubble gum bucket episode the other night proves otherwise.
  • Every reliever in baseball is a displaced, ergo, disgruntled starter. Therefore, only the ones who are smart enough and secure enough to understand and embrace their NEW role, can adapt mentally and really handle the job.
  • I have a pit in my stomach that will likely stay for the remainder of the regular season. It’s great to have meaningful baseball in September, but damn…this is nerve-wracking.
  • Maddon perfectly managed the bullpen in the nightcap.
  • I think we found our closer.
  • Great outing by Lester. Please stay hot for a while.
  • Nice that Raker”s dad only had to pay $2.75 so Raker could see Burt Hooton throw a no-hitter.
  • The Old Style was still 8 bucks.
  • He’s leading the globe in SB’s against, and I can’t figure out why the organization isn’t doing everything possible to try to fix it. Not trying to poop on the parade of an otherwise well pitched game…it’s just alarming with the playoffs looming.
  • what the Sam heck was Baez doing with that safety squeeze in the 6th?
  • I know a kid named Sam Heck.


  • Relievers + Walks = Losses. Period.

Shout Outs

  • Big shout outs to Adam Peters, Josh, Michaer, and Nate Head for their first 2015 Season Lizzies!!!! Thanks for being here!


  • Congratulations to Sherm, our Most Valuable Lizzie-er this time! Way to go Sherm, glad you’ve been having a chance to hang around again!

Top 10 of the 2015 Season (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. Eddie von White
2. Doc Raker
3. Seymour Butts
4. jswanson
5. Joe Aiello
6. Doug S.
7. Jedi
8. Sherm
9. Dork
10. Jared Wyllys

Chit Chat

  • As the post season quickly approaches, what do you feel is the Cubs’ biggest asset right now? And what is their greatest liability?
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5 Things a Cub Fan Needs to Know on September 17

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Extra Innings in Pittsburgh

The Cubs earned a much needed victory against the Pirates last night. Jake Arrieta gave the Cubs another quality start, but lack of run support kept him from winning his 20th game of the season. The Cubs scored the first 2 runs of the game in the 6th inning via a Kris Bryant RBI double and a sacrifice by Starlin Castro. In the bottom of the 6th, the Pirates got a run back on a throwing error by Arrieta. In the 8th inning, the Pirates tied the game on a double play ball. After not scoring in the top of the 9th, the Cubs had to hold the Pirates scoreless in the bottom half to send the game to extra innings. It was Castro that made a great diving play to turn two send the game to extras. After 2 scoreless innings, the Cubs scored in the top of the 12th on a sacrifice fly by Anthony Rizzo. Hector Rondon, in his second inning of relief, closed the game out and earned the win and the save.

Division Hopes Fading

The Cubs last chance to fight for the division will be during the Cubs last series vs. the Cardinals starting Friday. Even with a series win, with only 17 games left in the season and being down 7 games, it is very unlikely that we catch St. Louis. The real opportunity is getting the wildcard game at home. A win today and the Cubs will be just 2 games behind Pittsburgh with 16 to play and another series yet to play against them.

Questions for 2016

I know it’s a little early to be talking about next season, I understand that we’re in a playoff chase, but there are some important questions for what the team will look like next year. What do the cubs do with Dexter Fowler? He is a free agent after this season and is likely to pull in a big payday. If the Cubs can’t keep him around, who plays center field next year? Is Albert Almora going to be ready soon? He finished off this season great, but he was only at Tennessee. Can the Cubs keep Castro as a utility infielder or will he be traded? Who or how many pitchers do the Cubs need to sign in free agency? I think pitching is the most important issue for this team, followed by the infield and then Fowler and the center field position. The success that the Cubs have achieved this season will put even more weight on the offseason moves, as the pressure of expectations begins to be felt on the players and management.

Myrtle Beach Wins the Mills Cup

Today the Myrtle Beach Pelicans hoisted the W flag as they finished a sweep of Wilmington to claim the Mills Cup. Victor Caratini was named the MVP of the Mills Cup championship series for his team leading .474 batting average in the playoffs. Duane Underwood pitched 6 innings allowing 1 earned run and striking out 7.

What’s On Tap?

Today the Cubs will play the last game of this series against the Pirates and there is a lot on the line. Winning this game would put a lot of pressure on the Pirates down the stretch. Kyle Hendricks will pitch for the Cubs against Charlie Morton for Pittsburgh. With this pitching matchup there should be some more excitement on the offensive side of the game. Hopefully this will be the Cubs’ last game in Pittsburgh of 2015.

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5 Things a Cub Fan Needs to Know on September 16th

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Game one: Chicago 4 @ Pittsburgh 5

This one stung a bit. Chicago opened their full day of baseball with a 5-4 loss against the Pirates at PNC Park. Despite trailing most of the game, it truly felt like the Cubs let an opportunity to gain ground on the wild-card leading Bucs slip through their fingers.

At the plate, Cubs hitters were held in check by Pirates starter Gerrit Cole, who recorded eight strikeouts in 6.1 innings. Cole’s command was sharp; he didn’t issue a walk and rolled smoothly through the majority of his start, retiring 11 consecutive hitters at one point. Glimmers of hope appeared when reliever Joakim Soria replaced Cole with one out in the 7th, where Chicago took advantage of two wild pitches from Soria to plate three runs and tie the game 4-4.

Jason Hammel started the game on the mound for Chicago, and once again, struggled mightily. Hammel only lasted 3.2 innings, allowing four earned runs on five hits. The bullpen dazzled in 4.1 frames of work, but the game unraveled in the home half of the eighth. Pittsburgh’s Pedro Florimon entered as a pinch runner for Pedro Alvarez, who reached on a lead-off walk. Florimon advanced to third base with no outs on an errant throw from catcher Miguel Montero, and he later scored on a sacrifice fly to take a 5-4 lead that the Cubs were unable to overcome.

Game two: Chicago 2 @ Pittsburgh 1 

Chicago rallied behind Jon Lester‘s stellar shutout performance for a 2-1 victory over the Pirates in game two of the doubleheader.

The night game was all about Lester. For the first time this season, the lefty recorded all 27 outs of the game. Lester attacked Pirates hitters throughout the night, racking up nine strikeouts on only one walk. Pittsburgh had trouble brewing in the 7th with runners on first and third, nobody out. Lester came through in the clutch by inducing a double play that limited the damage to a single run–the only one the Pirates pushed across the plate. Lester’s excellence was nothing short of inspiring, and for good measure, he even picked-off a runner at first base.

Pitching Probs

As of late, the pitching staff has seen better days–with the exception of Lester and Jake Arrieta. Hammel, Kyle Hendricks, and Dan Haren have all failed to provide support behind the rotation’s top arms, which is a problem that needs to be addressed moving forward.

Lester and Arrieta can’t win a potential playoff series single handedly. The hurling H’s (Hammel, Hendricks, Haren) must channel their first-half selves, as they have all seen their ERA rise since the All-Star break. Their struggles have increased the bullpen’s workload, perhaps a cause to the sudden decline in Cubs reliever’s effectiveness. Manager Joe Maddon has entertained questions on the possibility of re-inserting Clayton Richard into the rotation, to which he replied, “I love him (Richard) out of the bullpen,” per Jesse Rogers of ESPN.

Standings Watch 

A daily glance at the NL standings has officially become protocol, not like anyone is complaining. Chicago’s split with Pittsburgh yesterday kept the deficit between the clubs at four games. The Cubs and Pirates are set to square off five more times this season, including today’s game. The Cardinals remain in striking distance at seven games, as many of us have morphed into Brewers fans for the next few days while they host the Cards. Starting Friday, the Cubs have the chance to take matters into their own hands, opening a pivotal weekend three-game set against St. Louis at Wrigley.

What’s on tap?

Bonus Note

Doc Raker sent us this image related to yesterday’s “This Date in Cubs History” section.

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Yesterday’s News: Pirates preview, instructional league rosters, return of Soler?

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

Pirates Preview

There’s always that team that causes you trouble when you’re doing well, and I suppose that for the 2015 Cubs it’s somehow the Phillies. Thankfully we are done with them for this year, and can look ahead to two weeks of some very important games. Today, the Cubs will start a 4 game series in Pittsburgh that provides the best opportunity to pass them in the standings and work toward securing the home field for the play in game. I think the division is somewhat attainable, but they need to look at beating the Pirates first.

Today will feature a doubleheader (no games yesterday because it would have meant a prohibitive number of consecutive games for the Pirates) that has a less than appealing first matchup:

Jason Hammel (8-6, 3.59) vs. Gerrit Cole (16-8, 2.54)

In game two of the doubleheader, the pitching matchup is a little more favorable:

Jon Lester (9-10) vs. J.A. Happ (5-1, 1.79)

It’s not easy, by any means, but should at least be better than what the Cubs offense will see in the first game of today’s doubleheader. A sweep of both games is probably not likely, so I would look to the night game as the best opportunity to pick up a win.

For the rest of the series, here are the pitching matchups:


Jake Arrieta (19-6, 1.99) vs. A.J. Burnett (8-5, 3.14)


Kyle Hendricks (7-6, 4.08) vs. Charlie Morton (9-7, 4.02)

None of these pitching matchups are easy, so our offense is going to really need to be on top of its game and work to score early. Our 7th and 8th innings from the bullpen have been hard to watch lately, so I’m hoping our offense can provide a nice cushion in this series.

Soler returns?

Injured OF Jorge Soler has been rehabbing with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans while they have been in the playoffs, and it is hoped that he will make his return to the lineup sometime during this series, if not tonight, though that seems a bit unlikely. Soler started his rehab assignment in Myrtle Beach on Friday, joining the Pelicans in their playoff series against Wilmington. (By the way, the Pelicans’ twitter account has been sharing Periscope videos of his at bats during the games.) Soler was batting third in the lineup last night for the Pelicans, which makes me wonder if he’ll be returning to the Cubs today. Though he could easily make the trip, I question the logistics of having him playing in a game in South Carolina before flying the Pittsburgh to join the team for a doubleheader. Given that the Pelicans are off today, it makes more sense that he’ll use today as a travel day and join the Cubs for the game tomorrow.


When I wrote this post last night, the Soler picture was much less clear, but the Pelicans announced this morning that he’ll remain with them through the final 3 games of the Mills Cup series, which runs through this Friday. Soler may then join the Cubs in Chicago on Saturday for game 2 of the Cardinals series.

Instructional League Roster

The Cubs announced their Instructional League roster yesterday, and you can see all of it here, but there are some interesting names there:

Carson Sands

LHP who spent 2015 with Eugene. He made 14 starts there, pitching 57.1 innings. His WHIP was rather high, at 1.448, and much of it is from  the 62 hits he allowed. He did have a 2:1 K/BB ratio and did not give up any homeruns.

Bryan Hudson

LHP that I don’t know a ton about (he is an Illinois native), but I am excited to follow what he does this fall. He is huge (6’8″, 220), and the Cubs thought highly enough of him to take him in the 3rd round this year. He pitched just 6.2 innings in Arizona this season, but he’s likely to get more opportunity in the fall.

Ian Happ

2B who was the Cubs first round pick this year and spent the year with Eugene for the most part before a late season call up to South Bend. He posted an OPS of .898 in Eugene and .763 in 38 games in South Bend. Happ spent all of his time defensively in 2015 in the outfield, so it is interesting that he’s listed here as a second baseman.

Donnie Dewees

OF taken in the second round this year. He spent all of 2015 in Eugene, where he hit .266/.306/.376. He had just 54 strikeouts in 303 plate appearances this season, which is good to see.

Eloy Jimenez

Of the prospects here, I think this is the guy I’m most excited about. I’ve mentioned him here a few times, but the potential for an exciting future with him is pretty great. He spent the 2014 season in the Arizona League as a 17 year old, and then all of this season in Eugene. He’s an imposing 6’4″ 205 at just barely over 18, so he could continue to grow. If he can keep hitting, we may have a serious talent on our hands. He had a .284 batting average in 250 plate appearances this year. In those 57 games, he struck out just 43 times and had an OPS of .746.

For the instructional league, I’d highly recommend following John Arguello’s AZL twitter account, as he’ll be attending most of these games in person.




1902: The trio of Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance completes their first twin killing in a 6-3 win over Cincinnati at Chicago’s West Side Grounds. The Cubs’ legendary douple-play combination will be immortalized by the 1910 baseball poem by Franklin Pierce Adams, Baseball’s Sad Lexicon.

1946: At the end of the fifth inning of the second game of a doubleheader against the Cubs, a giant swarm of gnats engulfs Ebbets Field. With Dodger hurler Kirby Higbe slapping the critters with his glove, the game is postponed due to the insects and the impending darkness.

1964: At Wrigley Field, Larry Jackson fires a six-hitter, beating the Reds, 6-1, to become the season’s first 20-game winner. The 33-year old right-handed workhorse will finish the campaign with a 24-11 record for the eighth-place Cubs.

1971: In just his second major-league start, Cubs rookie Burt Hooton ties a franchise record for a nine-inning game when he strikes out 15 batters, going the distance in the team’s 3-2 victory over the Mets at Shea Stadium. The 21 year-old right-hander matches the mark established by Dick Drott against Milwaukee in 1957.

2010: The Cubs beat the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, 7-3, to complete their first three-game sweep in St. Louis in more than twenty years. The victory marks the first time since June 12, 1988 that the visiting Chicago fans can break out the brooms in the Gateway City.

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5 Things a Cub Fan Needs to Know on September 14

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Mediocrity Reigns in Philly

Sunday saw more overall malaise-ridden play from the Cubs – sans Chris Coghlan, who actually did have himself a historic day at the plate in a 7-4 loss at the hands of the last-place Philadelphia Phillies. After a frustrating Saturday loss that saw the Cubs battle with resiliency in a losing effort, the contest Sunday never truly felt like a close one, with most of the offense provided by the aforementioned Coghlan. He went 4-5 with a solo homerun, two triples, a single, yet only one RBI, finishing a double short of the cycle. Ryan Howard provided for the Phillies, despite now having had the season they expect from him, and his 3 RBIs proved a major blow to the Cubs prospects. Dan Haren had a short outing starting, as well, going three innings while allowing four runs, all of which were earned, on seven hits. He earned the no decision, with Clayton Richard ultimately picking up the loss after four innings of relief duty.

Looking Ahead Syndrome

In all, what I cannot help but feel is that the Cubs, despite what has been said by Joe Maddon and the players, perhaps were looking ahead to the integral series with the Pirates this week. Playing the last-place Phillies – the team with the worst record in Major League Baseball – the weekend before the Pirates is the ultimate scenario for this “Looking Ahead Syndrome.” This is not meant to excuse the poor play, of which there was plenty, but the product in the field seemed to lack the fire that was present in the playoff atmosphere of Busch Stadium. With this being said, I can only imagine how deceptively difficult it must be to summon that fire while playing in front of 10-15,000 fans in a stadium that holds – at the very least – four times that number at maximum capacity. The Cubs need to re-focus quickly for the Pirates, and reinvigorate themselves; Joe Maddon, however, is the “sensei” of this ability, it seems.

Chris Coghlan and the Batting Thirds

The sub-header here is meant to invoke what I imagine Chris Coghlan’s band name to be, as it perfectly encapsulates the essence of him as a baseball player, and perhaps as a person – though it would be unfortunate if it did truly encapsulate his humanity. He would more than likely assert, “as a player, I bat third, but as a man, I am always lead-off!… Or second, behind my wife. I love you, sweetie!” I digress, however. Truthfully, he is one of the unsung heroes of this Cubs team that has been outperforming Major League competition this year. He is the position-playing veteran, along with David Ross and Miguel Montero, on a team full of rookies in the field. And when he bats third, the Cubs are a blazing 24-7 when he does bat third, with that seventh loss coming Sunday. He has consistently proven himself time and again, impressing with his uncanny ability, in a Ben Zobrist-like way, to successfully play the utility part. His platooning at second base has been particularly impressive, as his experience there prior to this season was limited. He has committed one error in his fifteen games at second base this year, with a favorable Fielding Percentage of .971, and a 1.5 Wins Above Replacement average (WAR), his best since 2010. His effectiveness to the success of this team cannot go unnoticed, and in order to be successful in the coming weeks and into the playoffs, his contributions will be central to Cub success.

NL Central Standings Update

With the series split in Philadelphia, the Cubs now stand at 6.5 games behind the Cardinals for first place, and 4 games behind Pittsburgh for second. The Cubs finished a confounding 2-5 against the Phillies, but as history would indicate, young teams have a propensity to scrap their way to wins in the most unlikely of ways. With the four games in three days series against the Pirates in Pittsburgh looming, the importance of the series to the Cubs’ chances at not only gaining valuable ground on the Pirates for the first Wild Card position, but also the Cardinals for a seemingly attainable first place in the division, cannot be stressed enough.

What’s on Tap?

It’s a day off for the Cubs today, which comes as a much-needed time for thought collection and re-focusing prior to the all-important Pirates series. The series will start with a day-night doubleheader Tuesday.

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5 Things a Cub Fan Needs to Know on September 13

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

The Bullpen Game

The Cubs planned for a game in which the bullpen would start and work the entire game this weekend at some point. Last night it happened and, in my opinion, it went reasonably well. I understand we gave up seven runs, but if you watched the game, that shouldn’t have happened. Travis Wood got the start and Trevor Cahill came in to relieve him. Both pitched three strong shutout innings. The damage started in the 7th. Justin Grimm came in and struck out the first two hitters, but walked Aaron Alther, bringing up Andres Blanco. Blanco hit a weak grounder that Anthony Rizzo went to field heading toward the pitcher, but he just muffed it. The inning was over, but the Phillies got a new life with Ryan Howard up. At that point there are two arguments to be made, one for Grimm and the other against Grimm. On one side, you understand that he should still get Howard, a player deep in a horrible slump, but why was he still pitching? He did his job and got the last guy to produce a ground ball out. Sometimes that shakes your focus a little and you let your guard down. This past fall our church played softball and were utterly horrible. I pitched a lot of the games and I know when things are going poorly and you get what looks to be an out only to see it go as an error, it shakes you a little. I place the blame equally on Grimm and Rizzo.

The Cubs would rally and tie the game only to see Hector Rondon give up a two run shot in the bottom of the 9th off the right field foul poll. A tough result for a game that was a bit non-traditional. If those runs the Cubs score come earlier, I think this game results in a win against a team that has nothing to play for.

Offensive Rally

I’ll be honest. When the Phillies scored five runs in the 7th, I was basically ready to turn the game off and go to bed. It was frustrating to see them score at all that inning, let alone five. I hung in and was greeted by a nice offensive rally. Right now Dexter Fowler and Kyle Schwarber are really fun to watch at the top of the order. They continue to produce runs in a variety of ways. When those guys are getting on base, good things are happening. Fowler led it off with a single on the first pitch he saw and then Schwaber walked to bring up Chris Coghlan. The rally is just another example of why you should not turn the game off with this roster of young guys. They continue to scrap and claw more runs. Sometimes it results in a rally win, but last night it fell short. It’s fun to watch.

I’m Done With You

I want to preface by saying that when I give up on a guy, they tend to start playing well, but I really am done with Tommy La Stella. I don’t know that I would start him another game this year. Since he’s come back from basically being on the DL all season, he’s not hit the ball well at all. Last night out of the 9th spot, a spot reserved in Joe Maddon‘s mind for someone to set the table for the top of the order, he went 0-for-3 and was removed for a pinch hitting Austin Jackson late in the game. I see no reason to start him when you have Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, and Starlin Castro all who should be in the lineup regularly right now. La Stella needs to be a bench guy with the occasional pinch hit appearance.

Soler Plays with the Birdies

I think that’s better than saying he sleeps with the fishes. Jorge Soler is currently on a rehab assignment with the only Cubs minor league playoff team, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. He is expected to be there at least through Sunday, with the possibility that he joins the big club on Tuesday, but that hasn’t been made official as far as I’ve seen. It will be good to have Soler back, but I wonder how much he’ll contribute down the stretch at this point. It’s going to be getting cold, so he’s going to be busting out the Spidey suit to keep warm and, if this spring was an indicator, will probably struggle.

What’s On Tap?


1902Johnny Evers, acquired to replace second baseman Bobby Lowe, who broke his ankle, joins shortstop Joe Tinker and first baseman Frank Chance on the Chicago infield, marking the first time the three Cubs’ infielders have played together. The legendary double play trio will be immortalized in Franklin Pierce Adams’ baseball poem, “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon,” better known as “Tinker to Evers to Chance”.

1932 – With their 100th victory of the year, the Yankees clinch the American league pennant as George Pipqras beat the Indians at Cleveland Stadium, 9-3. Yankee Joe McCarthy, who captured a flag with the 1929 Cubs, becomes the first manager to win pennants in both the American and National League.

1960 – In the top of the fifth inning at Crosley Field, Danny Murphy hits a two-out, three-run home run in an 8-6 loss to the Reds. The 18 year-old right-fielder becomes the youngest Cubs player ever to homer.

1998Sammy Sosa eclipses a National League record for the most home runs hit at one park by one player set by Ted Kluszewski when he hits his 35th Wrigley Field round-tripper, surpassing the former Reds first baseman’s total at Crosley Field in 1954. The Cubs right fielder’s 62nd of the season ties Mark McGwire for the league’s lead in their historic home run race.

1998 – Sammy Sosa’s ninth-inning homer in the bottom of the ninth off Eric Plunk helps to tie the game at 10 runs apiece in the Cubs’ eventual 11-10 extra-inning victory over Milwaukee at Wrigley Field. The round-tripper, his second of the contest, is the Chicago right fielder’s 62nd of the season, to pass Roger Maris‘s single season mark and tying him with Mark McGwire for the league’s lead.

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5 Things a Cub Fan Needs to Know on September 12

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

Let’s Play Two!

Yesterday, due to the rainout of Thursday’s game, the Cubs played a double-header against the Phillies. In game 1, Jake Arrieta was on the mound and *gasp* gave up a run. The good thing was that the Cubs scored 5 runs and won the game. The run Arrieta gave up was a home run in the 2nd inning, which was his first home run given up since July 25th, also against the Phillies. After that slight mishap, Arrieta went on to pitch 8 innings and earn his league leading 19th win. On the offensive side, the Cubs struggled for a while, but broke through in the 5th inning thanks to a pair of RBI doubles by Austin Jackson and Kris Bryant. In the 6th inning, Addison Russell hit a 2 RBI double with the bases loaded to stretch the lead to 3. The next inning, Starlin Castro muscled a solo home run to right center for an insurance run.

For game 2, Kyle Hendricks took the mound and had a pretty good outing. He did give up 3 runs, but only allowed 4 hits in 6 2/3 innings pitched with 5 strikeouts. Even though Hendricks had a good outing, game 2 was all about Kyle Schwarber. In the 1st inning, he launched a monster home run to center field to give the Cubs the early 1-0 lead. Then in the 2nd inning, he hit a 2 run home run to left center to make it 3-0. Later the Cubs scored 3 runs in the 5th on a Chris Coghlan double followed by a Bryant 2 run home run to center field. Then in the 7th Bryant singled home Rizzo to give the Cubs a 7-3 win and a double-header sweep in Philadelphia.

NL Central Update

With yesterday’s double-header sweep, the Cubs were able to gain ground in the division race. Pittsburgh lost to Milwaukee on Thursday, then won yesterday. St. Louis lost to Cincinnati on Thursday and their game today was postponed until tomorrow morning and was tied 2-2 in the eighth. The Cubs are now 2 games behind Pittsburgh and 6 games behind St. Louis, pending the end of their game yesterday.

Pelicans Moving On, With Some Extra Help

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans won their playoff game tonight to move on with a little help from a Jorge Soler rehab stint. Soler hit a double, walked and scored a run to help the Pelicans advance in their quest for the Mills Cup. Soler will continue to play for the Pelicans while they are still alive in the playoffs.

Playoff Roster Questions

There can only be 25. Some tough decisions are going to have to be made regarding who will make it in the Cubs postseason roster. Most of those questions will be will the bullpen and some of the later call-ups. It will depend a lot on who is healthy by that time, notably if Soler and Jason Motte can be back off the DL soon enough. Some will be wondering if there is a spot for Baez or Tommy La Stella for infield depth. As these last couple weeks of the regular season progress, more light will be shed on what direction the Cubs will go for October.

What’s On Tap?

Today the Cubs will play game 3 of this 4 game series against Philadelphia. Dan Haren will look to follow up his tremendous performance last time out to guide the Cubs to another win. On the mound for the Phillies will be Jerad Eickhoff, who has posted a 4.70 ERA so far this season.


1932 – In the bottom of the ninth, Johnny Frederick hits his major league record-setting sixth pinch-homer of the season, giving the Dodgers a 4-3 victory over the Cubs. The Brooklyn outfielder’s major league mark will not be broken for 68 years until another Dodger, Dave Hansen, strokes seven round-trippers coming off the bench in 2000.

1959 – En route to a 21-15 season with the Giants, 33-year old Toothpick Sam Jones throws a four-hitter against Philadelphia to become the second black major leaguer to win twenty games. In 1955, the right-hander from Ohio lost twenty games pitching for the Cubs.

1995 = During a WGN pre-game radio broadcast at Wrigley Field, Cubs announcer Harry Caray remarks to the team’s skipper Jim Riggleman, “Well, my eyes are slanty enough, how ’bout yours?”, referring to Hideo Nomo, the Japanese rookie hurler scheduled to start for the Dodgers. The veteran announcer, known for not backing off for his on-the-air off-handed comments, does issue an apology, calling the incident “unfortunate.”

1998 – Cubs’ slugger Sammy Sosa becomes the fourth major leaguer to hit 60 home runs in a season when he blasts a seventh-inning three-run shot off Milwaukee’s Valerio de los Santos in a 15-12 victorious slugfest at Wrigley Field. The Chicago right-fielder joins Babe Ruth (1927 Yankees), Roger Maris (1961 Yankees), and Mark McGwire (1998 Cardinals) in reaching one of baseball’s most cherished milestones.

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