Friday, August 28, 2015

Same Old Bears? Say It Aint So!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Second Half Much Like The First

Predictions are just that prediction of what might or might not happen. In my years the predictions have hardly been whether or not the Cubs contend regardless of who they have on the field. Usually they don’t. Then there is the talk of how much they’ve built up the farm system or whichever new star they have stashed away, predicted to be the second coming of somebody. How long will it take for Starlin Castro to get the next manager fired? And or when are we going to trade him? This years prediction in Chicago had the White Sox finishing ahead of the Cubs but Adam Laroche has turned into Adam Dunne. If Robin Ventura wasn’t a fan favorite he’d have been gone weeks ago. I’m a big fan of his since his days playing in Chicago but hey I’m not a White Sox fan. I predicted the Cubs would be in the middle of the pack right where they are. But with all of this fan fare about the youngsters being the future I have to say those in charge should know better by now.
The second half of the season has started out much like the first half. Losing games they should win and having to listen to Cardinal fans with their feint praise while their no name bunch is whooping up on everyone. The Cubs are better than the Pirates who have left us behind. We should be where they are now though no one will catch the Cardinals. With some of the embarrassing losses to St. Louis you hope it leaves a bad enough taste that they can return the favor next season. Again with the next season. Otherwise leave it to the oddball playoff system to extend the season by one game. There will be a point where we will have to stop talking about the age or experience of the players. The season is long enough to go through every scenario highs and lows. But every team at some point and in almost every sport gets it together long enough to make a run. Whether it is because of the schedule or in the Chicago the weather.
One other predictor fans use to decide on their team’s fate is their free agent signings. Let it be said that Chicago is a city where careers come to die unless you’re moved by mid season in a three team trade having to eat some of his mega contract. Yes I’m talking about Jon Lester. I don’t believe pitching is our problem as they’ve finally shored up the bull pen. But all of the chatter is about trading for pitching. Realistically the Cubs need a bat and more than one. San Diego’s Justin Upton is the best rent a player that comes to mind. for some reason this guy doesn’t stick with whatever team gets him but he is very productive for whomever he plays for. Maybe adding him as a veteran presence and keeping him around for that reason might get this team going in the right direction. They didn’t need to hire Joe Maddon to put them in this position of middle of the pack. And if you’re counting this is Starlin Castro’s fourth manager.
It gets frustrating to write these pieces with such bitterness. I grew up with the lovable losers with Harry Caray making their games bearable. Now they’ve dropped the lovable part but they haven’t dropped the losing or the incredible ways to do just that (do I need to bring up 2003, 07, 08?). We are in the post Tribune Company ownership period. And like the Cubs are wont to do they try to make a splash that has nothing to do with the players on the field. With a team struggling to score runs is it necessary to put up a Jumbo-Tron or build up the outfield bleachers which might not even fill up once the team is officially out of the race?
Admittedly the future is bright for this team but unless your team is in St. Louis or New York you don’t know the word consistency and it is what we as Cub fans are hoping for. Many of our fans moved south after 2005 and that ball club has made what, one post season appearance since then. You look at the BlackHawks a team left on the pile of history has risen like a phoenix and haven’t leveled off yet. Proof positive it can be done. They have the nucleus like the ‘Hawks have and the brains to put a run together. One ten game winning streak is a good start. These are kids who have dreamed of playing baseball their whole lives. That cannot be said for many players in the league who are in it for the money. Why else would Aramis Ramirez leave Chicago for Milwaukee in 2011? Chicago is a city of winners. Good football. Good basketball and great hockey. But baseball is where the good and great end unless you’re talking about history. Yet there’s nearly 200 years of losing. Let’s start the second half fresh like the first half never happened and let my next piece be about this being the year.

New Low For Cubs

So a day after hoping, pleading for the Chicago Cubs to do something special, to prove how good these guys really are, they go out and get no hit. Granted they had the longest streak in baseball without being no hit. Couldn’t they have at least done it on the road or against a team which isn’t the worst in the league?
Now everyone is saying we need to trade for Cole Hammel.
No! We need to trade for a whole new roster! One which remembers the point of the game is to hit the ball.
With hits come runs. With runs come wins which it seems the Cubs have not figured out that equation. So what exactly are the Cubs selling right now?
They fought the roof top owners and won to keep them from seeing their product for free. After Saturday I’d have to say selling out was a good idea. Keep it moving there’s nothing to see here.
Now I’m a positive thinking man.
They’ll figure it out one day. I mean they’ve got Theo Epstein doing his thing right? There’s bound to be a day when the Cubs can celebrate three World Series under the same GM. All of the attention he’s brought to the team and the picks he’s made in the draft are all bearing fruit.
Some of his free agent signings however have made me scratch my head and still with Starlin “my batting average goes down every month after April” Castro doing his disappearance act once again. I don’t know what keeps him on the roster. At least Anthony Rizzo is struggling but will still have quality at bats. There isn’t much to be said to defend this team as within a decade both sides of town have seen a no hitter. One thing I could hold over Sox fans heads when the Cubs are at their worst.
Not anymore.

Respect Due The Cubs

Well I’ve written a number of times about the Cubs. From their anemic offense to the fact they have yet to play like a playoff bound team even questioning the fact Starlin Castro is still on the team. He is still with the Cubs but I am now ready to give them their due. Back in 2005 the Cubs Manager Dusty Baker was consistently questioned about why he would not drop the strike out prone soon to be former slugger Sammy Sosa in the line up. It was a question that he finally acknowledged and dropped him from his usual three or four spot. Joe Maddon has finally decided he will not be the next manager fired because of Starlin Castro and took him out of the line up altogether. The Cubs have finally gotten over the hump and are playing like they should though many say that they are still ahead of schedule. There’s no such thing in Wrigleyville. When a team looks like it can contend the faithful start up with the this is the year chants. I’m not drinking the Kool Aid just yet. Especially when it took them this long to get to ten games over .500. I’m still not sold on Lester as our ace going in to the playoffs. Some of that big money he got to come here is probably getting to his head. Jake Arrieta is the one I’d give the ball to in a one game playoff type situation. And not to be too much of a downer will Kyle Schwarber and the rest of the young stars play like this next year? We are still in a division where the Cardinals are the standard bearers. Any world series title will have to go through St. Louis and they look as dominant as I’ve ever seen them.
Still the Cubs are 61-48 and whatever they do with Castro now he knows there’ll be no more blaming his mistakes on his youth. I’d been told many time this was his last year in a Cub uniform. I feel for the kid because he’s talented and he’s seen his share of losing seasons. And you never want to see your team take off while you’re on the bench. All kind of thoughts start to swirl. With the Cubs being a National League team at best he’d be relegated to pinch hitting if this benching keeps on. Thoughts of being traded are swishing around in your head. Maybe some anger at the manager who made the choice to bench you. This wasn’t a decision that came down from on high. This shows Joe Maddons true value after thinking for some time anyone can manage a .500 level team.