The Boys in Blue

This week in Cubs baseball we’ve seen Kris Bryant get his first major league start, Maddon get ejected for the first time in a Cubs uniform, Lester throw his glove to a quick thinking Rizzo, and Wood pitched 7 scoreless innings.

I was thrilled the Cubs brought Bryant up from the minors this past Friday and while his Major League debut was hitless his defense was working at Major League caliber. Personally I wouldn’t have slatted him to bat cleanup on his first day, but since he is the savior of all baseball perhaps I would have been wrong to not mark such an auspicious occasion with number four in the batting order. Bryant played well, and as evidenced by his second day in the Major Leagues and his broken bat RBI that tied the game in the fifth, got his big league jitters out. While I think the prowess of the entire roster, and not just on very talented youngster, will be what gets them a title at the end of the season the Cubs couldn’t have asked for a better person to bet on than Bryant. I’ll be glad when I get to my first game in May that he has already been called up so with any luck he’ll be batting a thousand when I see him play live for the first time.

The same day Bryant made his debut, Joe Maddon was ejected for the first time while wearing Cubbie blue. I was at a bar watching the game without subtitles so I was a bit confused at what I saw happening on screen. I saw a very sad three run homer hit by Wil Myers of the Padres, this sight caused me to order another drink, but what I saw next I didn’t understand: Maddon yelling at an ump. Of course it was a home run, I watched it happen, what is he yelling about?! It wasn’t until later when there had been a few write ups that I found out Maddon thought the home plate ump should have called the previous pitch the third strike, a notion I agreed with. Unfortunately Joe got all sorts of amped up and relief pitcher Brian Shlitter, with his Forest Gump post run hair and beard, just looked upset with himself, yea Brian I would be too. In the post game presser Maddon pointed out there was a pitch earlier in the game that he felt was a strike as well but that ultimately pitchers need to make the best out of the situation and we aren’t always going to get the calls we want. It was no Lou Pinella screaming match but it wasn’t bad for our first ejection of the season.

Earlier today in the second inning against the Padres Jon Lester made a successful throw to first base, which is great considering the last time he threw to firs the ball soared over Anthony Rizzo’s head. After scooping up a ground ball hit back toward the mound by Clint Barmes the ball got stuck in Lester’s glove. If you check out the video he seems to try and shake the ball out while jogging in the direction of first base and then realizes he’ll never get it out in time and tosses a quick thinking Rizzo (who also removed his glove to make a better catch) his entire glove procuring the out.Honestly …..whatever works kudos to both Lester and Rizzo on this one…even though the Cubs lost the game they didn’t erm lose their spirit? At least not in the second inning anyhow.

Wednesday against the Reds Travis Wood pitched 7 scoreless inning, allowing only three hits and two walks with 7 strike outs. In the past consistency has been his issue but for the time being I’m thrilled he was given that final rotation spot. It was a masterful outing for him Wednesday with the Cubs taking the W 5-0 against a formidable opponent from their own division. The Reds are now 5-6 after taking a beating from the Cardinals over the past couple of days. All told the NL central is already stacked with the most similar win/loss columns from top to bottom , with the exception of Milwaukee of course. The Cubs currently are sitting in second at 6-5 behind the Cardinals at 7-3. The Cubs are followed by Pittsburgh at 6-6 then the Reds at 5-6. If this is any indication of how the year will be the Cubs certainly have a fight ahead of them so if Wood can continue pitching as he did Wednesday all the better for Cubs Nation.

The Cubs end the week with 4 wins and 3 losses, not exactly stellar but pretty much on par with the res of the NL central. While my hopes are high for this season I think as long as the Cubs can keep a somewhat even pace with the rest of the division they’ll have more than a shot at the post season. History of course will say that come July and the all star break the Cubs will become the bumbling, hitless lovable losers we’ve watched for the last 100 or so years so maybe we should be looking to be setting the pace early in the season, you know just in case. We’ll see what next week has in store!

*shameless and corrected plug: last week I said my seats were 3&4 they are actually section 416 row 7 seats 103 & 104 so please message me if you would like to buy some!

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Tampa & Sub Freezing Wind

The first week of 2015 baseball is coming to a close so I thought a review might be in order.
I spent Opening Day in Tampa. It was an interesting dynamic, being around so many old people that were grumpy that Joe Maddon works for the Cubs now. I was in Tampa, making TV and twice during my time wore Cubs gear, once the day I arrived and of course on Opening day. The day I arrived I came face to face with one of my co-workers, who I had previously only spoken to on the phone, who happens to be a huge Cardinals fan. I knew the week was destined to have some pranks as he and I awaited Opening day, unfortunately the biggest prank was that the Cardinals beat the Cubs day one.

Opening Day in Tampa was warm and sunny, however the cold stares and questioning glances of the elderly Rays fans permeated the warmth, apparently Tampa is very upset about Joe Maddon but their loss is our gain.

Watching the first loss of the season from an office inside a hockey arena was a new experience for me, watching a loss on Opening Day on the other hand, not such a shock considering in the last 15 openers the Cubs have won only 4 times. Despite the loss at least the Cubs made the papers the next morning,(as they say all press is good press) on account of the lack of available ermmmmm toilets. In fact I received an e-mail from the organization, which thanked me for my continued support and also apologized for the lack of restrooms. Hopefully I won’t have to pee in a plastic beer cup when I’m there in May, but since only one of the four open restrooms was a ladies room, I’m not holding my breath.

Tuesday I returned to the hockey arena for another day of work and anxiously awaited game 2, during which I knew the Cubs would crush the Cardinals, only to find out halfway through the day that the game was being postponed due to rain and “sub freezing wind speeds.” Having been at Wrigley in early April I certainly can’t say the weather is unexpected but it was a bit of a downer considering the long arduous winter and how eagerly I’ve been anticipating baseball this year. On Wednesday my plane landed in Newark just in time to listen to the radio broadcast of Jake Arrrieta’s 7 scoreless innings, taking the W with hitting help from Starlin Castro.

I had been thinking that Opening Day would set the tone for the season, and after the loss was really nervous about that idea, but now I’m thinking maybe the Opening series will set the tone. I think we all expect a lot from the Cubs this year, considering the prophecy of Back to the Future II, Maddon, the incredible group of young players, Theo Epstein and the Wrigley renovations, but I also think most are expecting a hard fought battle between two incredible rivals in the mid west. I still think the Cubs will make it this year, but I never said it would be an easy road. Time and time again the Cubs will be at odds with their rivals to the South and the NL Central division title will be within reach of both teams, this all may come down to how they play against each other all season long. As I write this both team sit at 1-2, that postponed game could be the missing prophecy and I can’t wait for it to be rescheduled.

*Now for a shameless plug! Don’t forget, message me if you want tickets or check out stubhub section 416 row 7 seats 3 & 4