Thursday, April 19, 2018

I’ve said when a team loses whether it is in early April or in the playoffs we are doing them a disservice by saying it’s early. This version of the Chicago Cubs has regressed strangely enough to 2016 where they had just as much trouble with strike outs and  stringing together big innings. Their former hitting coach now with the Angels. Should I say the first place Angels. Though I know they won’t stay there for too long because the Astros are far too talented to not win that division, the American League West. This team has been together fully for two entire seasons since 2016 when Kyle Schwarber went down at the beginning of the season when for some season they chose to put a catcher in the outfield part of one of the worst outfields in baseball. Which is why Jason Heyward is necessary with his .222 batting average even with a new hitting coach. But for 2016 the Cubs have struggled in the first half of the season which means a lot of bad baseball to start. Maybe the Cubs and the Ricketts family should stop with the grandiose plans and buildings all over the place when the Cubs could just as easily be right back to being bottom feeders and no amount of Maddon pixie dust will be able to turn it around. With all of the hype behind Schwarber losing weight and Addison Russell talking about being less of a distraction than he was last year. Beware the hype. And still with the struggles of Jason Heyward. Management refusing to admit he is the biggest bust since Alfonso Soriano though he was at least serviceable. At this point I have little faith in the brain trust of the Cubs and their fancy technology that tells them that this bunch of kids can get to the NLCS again. It is pretty obvious these kids are pressing and trying too hard to replicate their fast start in 2016. That team did one thing these guys are not doing, taking walks and working the strike zone. With Anthony Rizzo’s comments about playing too many games makes me wonder where these guy’s heads are at though I did like his idea of playing more double headers. He will probably get his wish with all of the bad weather in Chicago. As well as realizing the leadoff hitter is not on this team though I believe they should put Addison Russell in that spot but he’s got his own issues with strikeouts. It couldn’t hurt to try it. Surely the Cubs will put up a fight for the division where most of the teams did nothing to improve their teams. Supposedly everyone is concerned with next season’s crop of free agents. In the meantime I imagine the league will half ass it and go whole hog for the playoffs of course. Sadly this will be the narrative for the rest of the first half of the season at least and with the all star game no longer deciding home field advantage in the world series this could be as bad to watch as the NBA.  The Cubs could still have a bang up of a second half like 2017 but even then they were pressing to prove they’re as good as the year before. They’re not even as good as they were in 2015.  It is still early to decide which horse to back in the race as I’m having a hard time getting behind the Cubs. But if and when they come around and make the playoffs it’ll be cold then too and they’ve got a built in excuse.

Monday, December 11, 2017

John Fox’s Bears have won the second most games in one season in his tenure. Whether or not to say the team has improved is not likely but hey are facing NFL teams every week. Going onto every week even Bear fans expect them to lose. They have little faith from ownership on down. We’ve been screaming for a franchise quarterback and I can say we may have one.  

What is more prescient is that the players he was drafted with or drafted prior to giving a new QB some weapons for the most part got onto the field on Sunday and made an impact. That Cincinnati had a number of players out due to injury doesn’t matter as any club this time of year can say the same but we also got back some player at the right time. The Bears are attempting to win out with three more games remaining but pundits say this is the time the Bears should be playing for draft position.

It isn’t as if they can strike out on purpose as with baseball or miss every shot you take in basketball. With all of the players getting fined for dirty hits rivals or not there is never a time to take a play off in football.

John Fox is fighting for his job at least for another and Ryan Pace is hoping to be the one who fires him if it comes to that. I am one of the few that says if this staff can be kept for one more season then let it be so. With the rookie getting into his groove why not see how far it goes. The Bears just scored more points than all of the previous games in the John Fox era. Let’s see if they can do it again. There are three more game left and dare I say they are all winnable? Having to play Minnesota might be scary to some but the Bears nearly beat them in the first half of the season.  

It is possible to win out especially with some of the firsts that came about against Cincinnati: The first 100 yard receiver of the season. I‘ve already mentioned the number of points. First Bears running back to reach 1000 yards in consecutive seasons and the first running touchdown for Trubisky this season though he has the speed to rush for many more.

I say one more year for this regime and maybe a huge step closer to the playoffs than we’d imagined, No one plays a complete game on both sides of the ball every week but there is no reason we shouldn’t have seen more games like this except the first Bears/Lions game where Connor Barth came nowhere near the goal post with the game tying kick. In my opinion however should have been no need for it had the Bears dominated the second half of that game as they had the first half taking a 17-7 lead at one point. But for a couple of games like the Philadelphia game the Bears have been competitive in all of their games, Even the one Mike Glennon played. He did after all engineer the upset of the Steelers.

The Bears with a few draft picks and free agent signings on the defense and wide receiver this team isn’t that far from .500. While everyone was calling for firings after the loss to the 49ers and seeing in Jimmy Garoppolo what we’ve been waiting for since Sid Luckman as the media keeps reminding us, a franchise quarterback.  Let’s not forget that while Jimmy G was able to move the ball against us he had to rely on five field goals to win the game. The rookie Trubisky was able to get the ball into the end zone but made a number of rookie mistakes to remind us that’s exactly what he is. I think he’s comfortable enough now to call this his team and that’s the way it should be and while I see the Bears drafting another quarterback in next years draft we don’t have to sit around for an implosion to bring that qb onto the field and it starts all over again. Let’s look at this as a leap forward to a season full of success.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Chicago bears win two in a row for the first time since 2015. When by now they’re expected to be at best 1-5. At 4-5 everyone is talking playoffs and the drafting of Mitchell Trubisky is seen as the best thing that could happen to this team. When we were thinking about that 1-5 start the question was which one. That answer was Pittsburgh. The only team Mike Glennon beat in his short stint as Bears starter. At three wins it was more than they won last year. At four wins people are starting to think their jobs are safe. The something happens that give the Bears and the city of Chicago even more hope: Aaron Rodgers gets hurt and possibly done for the season. No one wants see another player get injured in this time when parents are considering whether or not it’s the best thing to do to let their children play football. But a chance to beat Green Bay at least once in a season regardless who is behind center is always good.

We’re still several games away from .500 and after this weekend losing to the Packers minus Aaron Rodgers the mood is dark in the city. Once again every move by John Fox and Ryan Pace gets questioned and would there be some sort of distraction like a fight and the loser stalk the sideline pouty like. The offensive line is busted up, players playing out of position. No wide receiving corps to speak of and the defense at times prove they are human. This is why people are calling for the heads of the current regime to roll. This isn’t a team that is anywhere near playoff ready and won’t be anytime soon. They are however have more wins than the Browns and the Forty Niners combined.

Our Quarterbacks will look different next year especially with Glennon being gone. Will the Bears have to relive it all over again with Trubisky having to look over his shoulder. But this time against a talent that was drafted at his proper position in the draft not by giving up the house on a chance he’ll be the Quarterback of the future this time. No one wants a statue as their signal caller. Let me even more Monday morning quarterback it, I actually saw someone with a Glennon jersey in Chicago. Whoever sold that jersey is still laughing about that sale.
The 2017 baseball season is over. A post season I can only call milquetoast is over. The most talented team didn’t win but the band of brothers. I didn’t have the Astros in the World Series. The most compelling series the division series including the Cubs and Nationals. How many managers were fired after losing series? The Cubs weren’t built for success in 2017. Certainly not for a World Series Run. That they got to the League Championship says the Head Man deserves Manager of the year. However questions can be asked count your blessings Chicago. Should there not be the success these years I would pick up torches with you. There are huge holes the Cubs have to fill and tripping over yourselves to figure out who is going to be coaching first base doesn’t tell us what they’re going to be doing about Jason Heyward.

The Dodgers became a beast after watching the Cubs celebrate their ring ceremony. Then losing two out of three in Chicago early in the season. Getting dust kicked in your face by the team that took the pennant from you the previous season.

The Cubs did what a decent team with a good manager does. I think Joe Maddon took losing pretty hard as well. He was the last to finally admit/accept the limits of his team but was able to win with what he had. Had he lost in the division series would he be like the other managers who lost their job? The National League has more teams that are ready to runaway with their division than the American League but the post season is what counts. What stuck out in this year’s playoffs is how little players hit. The Cubs changed their hitting coach because of lack of hitting against the Dodgers when the last two World Series was about pitching. Everyone could see that the Cubs were an all or nothing team. This helped them to score more runs than any other team in the second half.

The Cubs have a lot of work to do. They have an over abundance of position players they can trade that Maddon can put out the same line up every day and players who deserve to play every day can do just that. We can throw a few names out there like Ian Happ, Addison Russel and as much as it pains me, Kyle Schwarber since they aren’t going to put him back behind the plate. But you cannot let Jake Arrieta walk.

Once again a lot of good men lost their jobs or changed teams. Men who were once managers are now looking at coaching jobs and men who were once coaches like Davey Martinez leaving the Cubs and taking the Washington job. Is it easier for a man with a readymade team with win now aspirations or taking over a team with no chance to win for a few years? This is a league where you tip your cap to his people but accuse him of tipping his pitches.

Chicago is not a city starve for post season success. But they are prickly about their baseball teams. Pay Arrieta what he’s worth and bench Heyward for Almora. Trade for pitching off the big league club if we have to but enough with questioning Joe Maddon and give him what he wants.

Friday, October 20, 2017

I could list any number of things that went wrong  or right with the 2017 Cubs. It’s been since before any of us were born that the Chicago Cubs went to three league championships in a row considering the current playoff system did not exist before the 1990’s. This team was less frustrating than the 2016 team. With some rest and some changes this team will be back in the NLCS at the very least in 2018.  How could we complain with the Black hawks getting swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs after having the best record in the NHL Western Division?

I call it my Cub coma. Hey did exactly what they were supposed to do. They made the season entertaining and they were competitive. We had other clubs in the city of Chicago who aren’t going to make the post season for years to come in three different sports. No one recognizes half of the players on the Chicago Bulls and a quick fist by Bobby Portis to Nikola Mirotic might be the only way anyone pays attention to that team. The Bears after five game into the season have switched starting quarterbacks. The White Sox are selling off their assets in hopes they will one day look like the Cubs quick.

Fans have questioned Joe Maddon since game six of the World Series of his use of Aroldis Chapman. They make it to the League championship with a bunch of kids at their core some still on rookie contracts. Then There is Jason Heyward. Not yet thirty years old but has shown he’s not an everyday player. An offensive liability.

Maddon knows exactly what he has and put the best of them on the field. No one will take on Heyward’s contract six years left on it. Expect to see him benched more often long as Maddon is at the helm. Give Albert Almora a chance to play everyday. Put Kyle Schwarber back behind the plate or trade him. The Cubs had better figure out what to do with him before some other team does. Or quit belly aching about his strike outs and low batting average but thirty homeruns per year.

What this team should be sorry about is the runs they left on base and the first inning home runs they gave up. Let’s bid adieu to 2017 and not have leaks of infighting. Bad blood. Let’s believe these boys loved one another. Glad they’re not one for social media controversy. Besides allegations of domestic violence against Addison Russel. Miguel Montero mouthing off how slow Jake Arrieta is to the plate. Domestic violence is no joke but the court of law has yet to weigh in. I am of a mind to let this season sunset and move on.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Cubs win the division and are set to defend their World Series Championship what none of the other playoff contenders can say. They start out with Washington on Friday the 6th of October. For Cub fans to outwit a former manager is paramount matters not that he was the last manager to get the Cubs closest to the World Series before Maddon. It is hard to outlive Cub lore.
This is a great stage and five games of hatred. I think the Cubs can win if this doesn’t become a series of one bull pen against the other. The Cubs can match anyone bat for bat. A starting staff coming into its own at the right time. They can go deep into games minimizing the use of the relievers. Their Achilles heel.
They’re going in with their starting staff  In tact and the comical question of which one should start the series. There are five good ones to choose from. Then which one goes into the bull pen for long relief? We’ll have to see how Quintana handles the success of being in the post season for the first time. Otherwise he’d be in the middle of a rebuild on the South Side for the rest of his career.
I think about the Dusty baker years with that freaking tooth pick always in his mouth. But he had the Cubs on the precipice of a World Series appearance in 2003. I’d never seen so many grown ups cry. With the rival White Sox winning it in 2005. Sammy Sosa gone by then. The Lou Piniella disaster yet to come.
The Dusty Baker years in Chicago is lush with story lines with a horrible ending. GM at the time Jim Hendry did his best to put great players on the field and yet could not win. Let’s not forget the steroid era would come to Chicago during these years. He benefitted from it and it eventually tore the team apart. I figure this is one team the Cubs match up well with and should be one of the more interesting series of the playoffs. They only have to win one more series to get back to the World Series. A rematch with the Indians perhaps.
The Cubs will get stronger as the playoffs go on. They will pitch like they did in 2016. Some of them won’t be back next year. Nothing to do but let it loose. Maddon will have some tricks up his sleeve for going back to back with this team. For Cubs fans a driving force is fourteen years later we’re still mad.