Could This Be Jackson’s Last Stand For The Cubs?

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It’s hard to put a positive spin on the Cubs 8-3 loss to the Giants last night, especially when Edwin Jackson is on the mound. However someone can spin it, Edwin Jackson lost. They had the hits 11 to the Giants 14 but leaving those runners on base killed the Cubs chances. It wasn’t all Jackson’s fault, but if management doesn’t do something now with the struggling pitcher, their integrity will be in question going forward. Remember Jose Veras? The Cubs cut ties with him early and somewhere down the line, they’ll have to do the same with Jackson.

“No one wants to be moved, but if it happens, it happens,” Jackson said about a potential shift to the bullpen. “The only thing you can do if you don’t like it is go out and pitch your way out of jams. Like I said, you just have to relax and have fun and get back to having fun. And tonight was an example of absolutely not doing that.

Yes, but Edwin are you going to pitch your way out of a 52 million dollar jam? Those things stick to the rye bread in the breakfast of franchises and leave a mess long after the jam’s been consumed.

On a happier note, Chris Valaika crushed the leather from the rubber in his first dinger of the season and Luis Valbuena added one in the eighth.

I think it’s time Edwin goes to the bullpen. They can bring up Dan Straily and give him the practice he needs. Hey listen, I was a fan of Edwin Jackson, but it’s a business they’re running and the Cubs are on the verge of something special and don’t need a distraction like Jackson. He’s not a starter.

Believe it

—Mark

 

Cubs Rain Down A Win Over Giants

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Sometimes you just have to take what you can get. Last night in front of a drenched crowd at Wrigley Field, the Cubs did just that winning 2-0 over the San Francisco Giants. They don’t call it the Windy City for nothing as the ground crew tried to cover the field, but after four hours, the game was called.

“We tried to wait as long as we possibly could because the Giants were in a pennant race and because we felt an obligation to do that,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “I was talking to the umpires a lot tonight and [president of baseball operations Theo Epstein] was talking to MLB, trying to make it so we can play this game the way it should be played. Obviously that didn’t happen and it’s unfortunate.”

Anthony Rizzo continued to swing the hot bat, notching  his 29th home run of the season. So, what do the Cubs do at this point? They could be spoiler to everyone else in the hunt or they could go for the .500. Hey, they’re only fifteen games under. That many wins under this team is certainly attainable.

“These guys are going out here every single day to try to prove to the other team that they belong here with them,” manager Rick Renteria said Tuesday. “I’ll be honest, I think I’m really happy with the way we continue to play the game — even against some of the better clubs. Have we had some hiccups along the way? Yeah. Is this a good place for us to be at right now? Damn right. We need to embrace this and play the game and show everybody that we’re moving forward and we’re growing.

Well, let’s not get carried away there Rick. These guys are professional athletes and they don’t need to prove anything to anyone. They’re in the Show!  The Cubs are a good team now and they’re only going to get better. I’d argue the Baez, Rizzo, Castro order is one of the best in baseball.

I just hope the Cubs don’t do #TheIceBucketChallenge just because of those gosh darn pesky curses. Donate, but just don’t dump that bucket. You know, curses and all.

Believe it.

—Mark

Cubs Take Mets To School

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You know, it’s a real treat when Kyle Hendricks plays. I’m not taking anything away from the other starters, but in yesterday’s win over the Mets, the Cubs looked and felt like winners as if they were playoff contenders. In other words, they looked good. Yes, the Cubs showed the Mets what a couple of rookies can do for a club. 4-1, baby!

The unfortunate part about these late call ups is the ineligibility for MVP’s or Cy Youngs. Don’t jump all over me for even suggesting Javier Baez and Kyle Hendricks in the same breath with these awards, but imagine, what if?

What if they played all season long? Would Anthony Rizzo be looking at 48 Home Runs instead of the still awesome 28? How many of those rockets would Javier Baez be sending out into the stands? What about Starlin Castro?

“Having a lot of young guys coming up, we’ve played together for a long time, so it makes it more comfortable and it’s easier to play — you feel more comfortable out there,” Hendricks said.

Well gosh, that makes a whole lot of sense. These rooks have been playing together a lot in the well documented “Farm System Supreme” that the Cubs have been touting for quite some time now. Even though children are putting their backpacks at the door and school bus drivers are cleaning their machines, I’m glad Cubs fans are getting a chance to have a glimpse at the future.

The key issue is control and patience. The all ready awesome Kyle Hendricks needs to reel it in a bit. He’s got many years ahead of himself.

Javier Baez will learn his patience but man, am I glad he’s getting his chance.

“Over the long haul, he understands that if he’s swinging at pitches that are really unhandable, they’re going to keep [throwing them], for sure,” Renteria said. “He’s 21 years old. He’s learning.”

Believe it.

—Mark

Castro powers Cubs To Victory Over Mets

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Well, as the old saying goes, “A win is a win.” Even though Jake Arrieta didn’t receive the victory over the New York Mets yesterday, the Cubs got the 2-1 win and that is why baseball is the team sport that it is.

So, here’s the difference between the Starlin Castro of last year and the one who takes to the field this season. Yesterday, Starlin Castro got a ninth inning home run to give the Cubs the eventual win. How good is that  you might say? Well, Starlin Castro would have swung at anything or if he was out in the infield, “OH look, there’s a monarch butterfly.”

Not Starlin Castro of this year. Nosiree Bob. This one waits for pitches, communicates with other players and focuses entirely on what happens at the plate. In other words, this is the Starlin Castro the Cubs dreamed he would be.

“That was a big one,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “When he hit it, it came off his bat, and we were hoping it would get away from [the right fielder] — and it just carried enough to get out. That was a big at-bat for him, big at-bat for us.”

Or perhaps it’s Rick Renteria that’s put the change in Castro. The communication driven Renteria isn’t the laid back Morning After/Night Before looking Dale Sveum. Do you honestly think Sveum would have challenged all those calls this year?

There’s also the triple threat of Baez/Rizzo/Castro that’s sending fear into opponents that wasn’t there last year.

But wait! Could we possibly see Jake Arrieta at the All Star game next season? it might happen. Even though the Cubs would love to rest their new ace a little bit, he’s liking the challenge this brings.

“I want to make every start that I have lined up throughout the end of September,” Arrieta said. “If something comes up, I guess that will be addressed. I’d love to stay in the mix and finish out on a high note.”

Although a post season has as about as much chance as Jim Morrison walking the streets of Paris, I think the Cubs should still compete until the end of the season. I’d love to see the new kids as well, but really what difference is it going to make? The off season will be here before long and then what?

I’m predicting a .500 season for next year.

Believe it.

—Mark

Straily Struggles For Cubs

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As debuts go, there are great debuts like Guns N Roses, “Appetite For Destruction” with its searing guitars and howling vocals and then there are the kind of debuts which aren’t as well known. Dan Straily’s debut last night after being acquired from Oakland was one he would have liked to get back.

“It felt pretty new until I got going,” Straily said. “Once I started playing catch, it was another day of baseball. All day today, it felt pretty new. The excitement of getting to pitch for a new team and all that good stuff that goes along with it. It’s just not the way I want to finish.”

Ah, but such is life with the Cubs in August. The call ups and debuts. Experiments and mishaps. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is all good. We all know and expect great things from the Cubs soon but last night’s game was tough.

“I’m sure we’ll see him again,” Rick Renteria said. “He gave us a good look.”

Their record, 52-70 resembles my golf score, but thank God this isn’t golf.  The Cubs are continuing with the call ups by bringing Matt Szczur. A guy with a batting average of .292 in July.

Baseball’s a long season, ask my wife about that one, so it makes sense for the Cubs to revaluate the team to see what works and what doesn’t, give some of the guys a rest and when you’re not in a race, there’s no point risking any kind of injury.

The Cubs have some major decisions to make and I wouldn’t want to be in Theo Epstein’s or Jed Hoyer’s shoes at all. Optioning Junior lake to Iowa was definitely the right choice. Being the arm chair manager that I am, Lake was awesome last year and provided a much needed boost but taking a year to figure out what kind of player he is shows that last year’s excitement was just that.

“Any time you have someone who has been with you as long as he’s been with us, and you send him down late, it’s obviously disappointing,” Renteria said, “but I think he understands he’ll get some at-bats and he knows he’ll be back.”

I doubt it.

Speaking of Edwin Jackson…

Believe it.

—Mark

 

Cubs Wood If They Could

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It’s amazing what a couple of days can do to the Cubs. Last night, the Cubs fell to the Mets 3-2. A close game and you have to hand it to Chicago, they.ve been keeping it relatively close all season. However, Travis Wood is having a rough season. Yesterday, I railed on Edwin Jackson, but can you blame me for that? Travis Wood is a far more consistent pitcher, so yesterday’s struggles were more forgiving.

“Walks killed me,” Travis Wood said. “If you take out half the walks, it’d be a pretty solid game. That was the game. I had the two walks to start the fourth and the guy hit the ball out of the park. I gave up four hits, and one of them happened to be a long ball with two walks, and that was the game.”

The great news in the loss is the triple team of Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro did it again for the team. Castro went 2 for 4 quietly putting together a banner season for the kid.

It’s going to be a rough finish to the season, but an exciting one when the Cubs bring up Dan Straily who was brought over in the Jeff Samardzija deal. This is one Cub fan who is excited about the struggles the team has faced all year. Bringing the young kids up like, Kyle Hendricks, Javier Baez and now Dan Straily is proving the Cubs aren’t throwing in the towel. This is Wrigley’s 100th birthday and even though the team isn’t,” there” just yet; there’s something around the corner that’s exciting. There’s a plan coming to fruition. Whether it’s sending Junior Lake to Triple A. This is a team that wants to succeed.

Last year, it was Starlin Castro who struggled and this year it’s been Lake that’s had to learn how to hit. Sending him down was a good thing, the right thing to do.

“We tried to do everything we could throughout the course of the season, especially early, to put him in a decent place,” Rick Renteria said. “Obviously, it’s very difficult for the young man. Right now he’s a little disappointed, but I think he’ll catch a breath of fresh air, play again, get some at-bats, have some fun again, and we’ll see him here soon.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs decide to ship the young outfielder during the off season.

Believe it.

Mark Gauthier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cubs’ Edwin Jackson Drops The Ball

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You can tell how good a game is when they show the Blue Angels flying overhead more than the game.

To say Edwin Jackson had a bad game is a bit of an understatement. He was brutal. I’d like to think that while he was on the bench marvelling in the deconstruction of the Brewers that took place the two nights before by Kyle Hendricks and Tsuyoshi Wada that Edwin simply got to the mound, looked at the white sphere in his hand and said, “What do I do with this thing?”

If Edwin Jackson was sitting at the head of the class watching Hendricks and Wada give instructions on the mechanics of the game, he failed miserably.

“At the end of the day, you can’t be on the mound thinking about mechanics,” Edwin Jackson said. “It doesn’t allow you to throw quality pitches or have the effectiveness on your pitches as you normally would. If you get too mechanical, you’re kind of out there like a robot, like I was thinking about way too many things instead of simplifying: see the ball down, see the glove and throw the pitch.”

Yesterday, the Cubs lost 6-2 at the hands of the Brewers. Sure, critics can say that there weren’t any hits. Where’s the run support, but the hits were 9-5. The Cubs lost yesterday because their fifty million dollar arm just couldn’t get it done.

So, what are the Cubs going to do with Jackson? The experiment has failed and you can’t say Theo Epstein didn’t give him a chance. I mean, the guy has played all over the league. What does that tell you?

There’s not many times when I scream for players to be traded or demoted or whatever the heck they have to do with him but the fact that is on every passionate Cubs fans mind right now is, “He won’t be here next year.”

Believe it,

—Mark

 

 

 

 

Cubs Show Their Teeth Against Brewers

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You know how that old saying goes? You never forget the first time. Oh C’mon, I was talking about baseball. You could see where all those metaphors came from now, can’t you?

Last night, Javier Baez collected his first of many home runs on Wrigley soil. The Cubs went on to defeat the Brewers 4-2 and now sit above .500 since Javier Baez joined the club.

“It feels great,” Javier Baez said. “I hit the ball pretty good. As soon as I hit it, everybody went crazy. I knew it was gone because I hit it really good.”

Not only Baez’s blast but Anthony Rizzo wanted to remind the Wonder Kid to respect his elders and took one yard right after that. Is it too early to put those rally caps on?

“Sitting back, you look at them and say, ‘I’ve got a 21-year-old and a 24-year-old doing the things they’re doing,’ and yeah, it’s pretty exciting,” Renteria said.

Speaking of the new guys, Tsuyoshi Wada received another quality start and now the tandem of Kyle Hendricks, Wada and Jake Arrieta is looking pretty darn good at the moment.

it’s exciting times in Chicago and next month, the Cubs take on Toronto.  @  gave a shout out to his Ontario born Mother. The broadcaster hails from Massina NY just across the border. Did you guys ever sit on a Chesterfield?

Believe it,

Mark

Cubs’ Hendricks Serves Up A Pitcher Against Brewers

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In Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs have a Bona Fide Superstar. He’s 4-1 since joining the team and then you’d have to look at Javier Baez and the Cubs record since the Wonder kid got the call up. They’re 4-4. not a great record by any means but if you’ve been following the blog, I’ve been preaching the Cubs could finish with a .500 record. Now, could that be since Javier Baez’s Call Up?

Last night, Kyle Hendricks went to work like a surgeon against the Brewers and carved them up 3-0. The Cubs have now shut out the Brewers four times this season. Perhaps a nickname like, “The Surgeon” is in order?

“When guys get on base, they’re saying he’s tough, he’s sneaky, he has good pitches, he commands them,” Anthony Rizzo said of Hendricks. “The best part is, it seems he can induce a double-play ball whenever.”

Anthony Rizzo was no slouch last night either. He destroyed a baseball making his Home Run totals now at 26 and ending putting to rest any criticism of a slump.

Nope, the Cubs are suddenly for real and although it’ll take some time for the rust to clear and the gears to turn smoothly, but something’s happening and this isn’t the same team that took to the field in April.

“You get to see the young men everybody has been talking about for the last couple years, and you’re seeing them contribute in some way, shape or form in a positive way,” Rick Renteria said. “Maybe it starts to validate the direction the organization is going in, which is good. We all understand it’s been a long time, and it’s going to take a while to chip away and have everybody feel positive about the organization, but it’s going that way.”

Believe it!

—Mark

Chicago Born Robin Williams Passes Away at 63

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In a Perfect world, Javier Baez would get called up, hit a home run every game and the Cubs would bounce back and win the World Series. In a Perfect World, Chicago born Robin Williams would have found a cure for what ailed him.

We don’t live in a Perfect World and that’s what’s so damn beautiful about it.

Today, the world mourns the passing of one of its most famous entertainers. A man who’s gift was to make us laugh, cry and sometimes make us writhe in our seats. From a radio DJ comforting soldiers in Vietnam, a homeless man searching for the Holy Grail or a single father trying to connect with his children by dressing as a kind old woman. Robin Williams played a role for everyone. He was our voice. If Dying is easy and comedy’s hard, then Robin Williams was a workhorse.

There were so many roles and I’m sure you have your favourites, but here’s mine.

He did a 1986 Stand Up Concert and in this routine he talked about cocaine. Now, just to warn you, it’s offensive in the language, but it’s Robin Williams in all his glory.

A comedian has that ability to make us laugh, but inevitably they’re laughing at themselves. Robin Williams could do it all. To take life’s tragedies and make us feel that it’s ok to laugh. We’re all tied together in that bond.

Robin Williams laughed at his own demons and his own insecurities. That’s why we loved him.

Give me that Imperfect World any day and somewhere wherever Robin Williams is, there are Angels peeing their pants.

Believe it.

—Mark

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