Category Archives: Cubs

Loveable Losers, not so loveable in 2011?

The Chicago Cubs. The Loveable Losers. But are they truly loveable losers in 2011? As a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan I have been trying to work out in my mind what has caused this quintessential pre-allstar break collapse.

As a Cubs fan we have not seen many of these this spring and summer:

We have been seeing more flags like this (heartbreaking really):

Right now they are 35-53. I mean WHAT THE???  The SECOND to the LAST WORST Record in all of Major League Baseball. ONLY the Houston Astros are worse than my beloved Cubbies. 

I mean we are the “Loveable Losers” but really all this LOSING is killing me. Some days I can not even bring myself to look at the score or to hear that there was yet another LOSS.  

Where do you start pointing the fingers? The Front Office? The Manager? The Players? The Front Office for hiring Quade as the full-time manager instead of exploring other options such as Ryne Sandberg? The Front Office for not spending more money on acquiring players? The Front Office for holding onto such large contract players like Soriano?  Where does the blame fall??   

I think the blame is far-reaching.

However, I do not place as much of blame on the way the Cubs are actually playing at the plate and in the field. Don’t get me wrong – blame still does fall heavily on the players because it’s about getting that Win. You can never factor that out.  

If you take a look at the Cubs batting averages you will see that the Chicago Cubs are batting just as WELL if not better than the Philadelphia Phillies (who currently are the BEST team in MLB). 
CHICAGO CUBS BATTING (YTD)         v.             PHILLIES BATTING (YTD)

However, comparing the ERA’s of the starting pitchers for the two teams does make you take a step back and say “OUCH. I mean OUCH.” Virtually NONE of the Cubs starters are under .200 or under .300 for that matter. Whereas, most of the Phillies starts are under .300. Big difference…

CHICAGO CUBS ERA (YTD)         v.             PHILLIES ERA (YTD)
 

I know our pitching staff has been wrecked with injuries this year, but that kind of excuse can only carry so far. Right now, we currently have 3 members of our starting rotation on the DL, which has been par for the course this year.  But when Marmol loses a game with a wild pitch walk off, you just shake you head in complete utter frustration. You know in your heart this is the way the pitching will go all season for the Cubs.

You also can’t have guys like Starlin Castro (who is the only Cubbie to play in the All-Star game this year as a reserve) making 16 fielding errors!! 

CHICAGO CUBS FIELDING (YTD)         v.      PHILLIES FIELDING (YTD)

Whereas, the Phillies’ player with the most fielding errors has just 6.  No comparison, an All-star game Shortstop should not have 16 errors at all-star break.

We have some outstanding players on our roster AND those guys – Ramirez, Soto, Castro, Soriano (to name a few) – are pulling their weight (for the most part) BUT we just can’t seem to keep a lead or grab wins. Our team has been torn apart with injuries. It just seems that the Loveable Losers can not get a break in any manner.

Therefore, I feel the Cubs Front Office has made some fatal moves over the past year or so.  Trading guys like Lee, Theriot, and Fontenot and not getting much in return. Yes, the Derrek Lee trade freed up some money to allow us to pick up guys like Garza and Pena.  You will have those who argue that Lee is getting too old and we needed to get rid of him. Uh- huh sure… I don’t buy it… his stats don’t show some huge depressing decline:

YEAR

TEAM

G

AB

HR

RBI

AVG

2010

CHC

109

418

16

56

.251

2010

ATL

39

129

3

24

.287

2011

BAL

66

262

7

24

.233

CAREER

 

1895

6789

319

1043

.280

D. Lee was a leader and almost the Gorilla Glue of the Cubs team. There are no natural leaders on the team currently – no one like D. Lee that is (or even Theriot).

 I also believe that the Front Office has been a little too stingy with their pocketbook. What is the point of having a Front Office with $$$$$ when they won’t spend any money to get players?  I know you will say “Well I bet they will plop down a ton of money to get Pujols!!” And I am sure they will and I won’t hate having Pujols. But ONE Man – Pujols – is not the answer to the Cubbie woes.

We also have players in Huge Contracts, like Zambrano and Soriano, that are not living up to the money they make. Now, I believe they are some of the better players on the team, but the amount of money tied up in their contracts definitely holds the Cubs back from pursuing some desirable players.

There is also the decision made by Hendry and the Ricketts to name Quade as the manager at the end of the 2010 Season. I will give Quade this much – he did step in with Lou’s early departure last season and did an outstanding job. He actually had a winning record. In my mind he is still the “acting” manager not the “real” manager and How do you not place a lot of the “losing” blame on his shoulders???  I do. I point my finger directly at him (and right through him to the Front Office for hiring him as the manager).

I just keep wondering.. what would these dark dark days be like if only they had named (the first love of my life) as manager – good ole Ryno Sandberg…. (instead we have lost him forever to the Phillies organization).  He is coaching the Phillies AAA team with a record of 50-36 (.581).  You tell me that’s like comparing apples to guava? All I see is a winning record and a man who I know would have been VERY capable of leading the Cubs this year.

Of course, I do not have all the answers. If I did, I would probably be working for the Cubs. Something has got to change though and I believe it starts from the top down. The Ricketts buying the Cubs was supposed to be a good thing and, in my mind, its been nothing but a downward spiral.

Come on… We KNOW I am not looking for a World Series Ring or even an appearance in the World Series… I am just looking for a Winning Season and for the Ricketts and Hendry to say “We are sorry Cubs fans. We will spend some money and bring you outstanding players. Not only Pujols but some great pitching and a few other fielders. We will make it up to you in 2012. We promise.”

I do still LOVE my loveable losers – even if they are not sooo loveable at the moment.

I just hope there is not an NFL lockout this year and my Bears are there to pick  me up and save me from the Cubbie 2011 fires of hell….


Not so Loveable Losers… :-(

If you know me at all you know that I am a die-hard avid Chicago Cubs fan… even after years of living in NYC watching the Yankees win world series after world series.. I could NEVER abandon my beloved Cubbies.

But.. seriously.. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH THEM???

Does anyone else feel that the Cubs organization, fans, players are being punished for Shunning Mr. Ryne Sandberg and staying with Quade as the manager?

As a Cubs fan we have not seen many of these this spring and summer:

We have been seeing more flags like this (heartbreaking really):

I mean we are the “Loveable Losers” but really all this LOSING this summer is killing me. Some days I can’t even bring myself to look at the score or to hear that there was yet another LOSS.  

Right now we are 35-52. WTH!!!!  The SECOND to the LAST WORST Record in all of Major League Baseball. ONLY the Houston Astros are worse than my beloved Cubbies.

With the trades of Lee, Theriot, and Fontenot at the end of last season and then naming Quade as manager and just totally dissing Sandberg – I feel the Cubs have made some fatal moves.

We have some outstanding players on our roster AND those guys – Ramirez, Soto, Castro, Soriano (to name a few) – are pulling their weight (for the most part) BUT we just can’t seem to keep a lead or grab wins. Our pitching has been torn apart with injuries (as well as the field players).   It just seems that they canot get a break.

And I have to listen to all those damn Phillies fans go on and on and on about how great they are this year and how its destiny this year. WHATEVS! What is your mascot again? Some freaky green monster that dresses in weird outfits and no one has a clue what he is?  (Can you tell I have a few Phillies fans in my life – that are near and dear to my heart  – but I cannot stand their damn baseball team or their football team for that matter!!)

I still LOVE my loveable losers – even if if they are not sooo loveable at the moment…

I just keep wondering.. what would these dark dark days be like if only they had name the first love of my life as manager – good ole Ryno Sandberg…. (instead we have lost him forever to the Phillies organization).

Sigh.

Update:

me: the cubs have the 2nd WORST record in all of Major League Baseball. Only the Houston Astros have a worse record.  (I am currently jumping out my office window – goodbye and i love you)

person that means a lot to me: Don’t!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Addy:  Too late. she already jumped. this is addy writing you. my mom’s loveable losers became not so loveable this season and she couldn’t handle it.  She loved you though and I will be living with Uncle Charlie. I will try to remain a cubs fan in honor of my mommy.  Love, Addy.

Addy:   P.S. Mommy would not like it if you tried to corrupt me and make me a Phillies fan. So don’t.  Love, Addy

me:  i just saw a clip in the elevator about how terrorists are now surgically implanting bombs. I have been saying that for like 2+ yrs now. that if i was a terrorist i would totally do bomb breast implants. i even told you that awhile ago.  god i am so smart. 
 oh i didnt die when i jumped out the window. i bounced off the big inflatable protestor rat and am still living in misery. ironic that an inflatable protestor rat would save my life. fuckers.

person that means a lot to me:  (did not answer because said person does not find me humorous.. sigh)


A perfect weekend

Friday nite I met a good friend and ex-coworker for dinner. We ate at Rosa Mexicana and got sloshed off of Margaritas, then we headed to the West Village for some Latin Dancing. It was a great nite of dinner, drinking, and some dancing (not too much cuz we were almost too drunk!).

Then Saturday, I met up w/ J to watch the Cubbies game on TV – of course they won! Cuz they are kickin butt – only 3.5 games back from Milwaukee to be in the lead of our division. Then we headed out to the Mets game Saturday evening. Sunday, we spent the whole day together too and of course we watched the Cubbies win yet again. It was just one of those perfect weekends – no real explanation for why. Just spending time w/ people you care about the most, having fun, and being happy. Thats the only way I can describe it.

Happy and Perfect. (as your blanket 🙂 )


Correlation: cubbies winning and happiness?

its odd. a certain person and i have had a few arguments lately and just when i think shit has hit the fan – the cubbies go and pull off some amazing win.  then the next thing i know we are not fighting anymore and we make up.  Both being avid Cubbies fans – I just find it odd – the correlation.  Maybe its a quick fix, but it brings us back together and grounds us for a moment.  one nite after the game i said – turned out to be a not so bad nite after all. he said funny how that happens.

i don’t know why a sports team can bring us happiness in odd moments.  any thoughts?


As a manager, soft-spoken Ryne Sandberg finds a temper

As a manager, soft-spoken Ryne Sandberg finds a temper

By Wayne Drehs
PEORIA, Ill. — It’s a little after 2 o’clock, some five hours before the first pitch on this steamy, sun-soaked, triple-digit afternoon; yet there’s the Hall of Famer, shagging balls in the outfield and pushing a grocery cart filled with baseballs to the pitcher’s mound. There’s the Hall of Famer, throwing batting practice, hitting fungoes, practicing rundowns and gathering his players for a pep talk.

While the 20-somethings he manages chug Gatorade and hover in the shade-covered dugout, the 47-year-old Hall of Famer doesn’t stop.

Ryne Sandberg

AP Photo/Peoria Journal Star, Fred Zwicky

It’s a pretty safe bet that Sandberg didn’t pitch much batting practice during his playing days.

Ryne Sandberg is still obsessed. The same fear of failure that motivated him through each of his 15 seasons as the second baseman for the Chicago Cubs now pushes him as the first-year manager of the Peoria Chiefs, the Cubs’ low-Class A affiliate in the Midwest League. “Even at this level, where it’s 80-90 percent about development, I’m constantly thinking about what our record is,” Sandberg says. “When we don’t play well, I take it very personally.” The obsession isn’t a surprise. That’s textbook Sandberg. His 2005 Hall of Fame speech about “playing the game the right way” and “respecting the game” still reverberates through the Hall today. What’s different is how the chronically soft-spoken second baseman has gone about this new experiment, managing with a Lou Piniella-like fire he rarely flashed in his playing days. The same quiet, introverted kid from Spokane, Wash., who was ejected just twice in his 16-year playing career has been tossed four times and suspended once in his first year as a manager. And the Chiefs’ season is barely half over. “I don’t understand it,” chuckles former Cubs teammate and close friend Rick Sutcliffe. “I rode with him for seven straight years to the ballpark and couldn’t get him to say a word. Now he’s getting thrown out of games? Maybe it has something to do with his hair turning gray or falling out. I’m not sure.” Sandberg shrugs off the ejections as part of his new job. Just like coaching third base. Setting his lineup. Aligning his defense. Managing his bullpen. Filing reports after every game. And playing father figure to the 25 young men on his roster. He retired with more home runs and a better fielding percentage than any second baseman who ever lived. (Jeff Kent has since eclipsed him for the record for home runs by a second baseman.) He was a 10-time All-Star and won nine straight Gold Gloves. But down here, down on the farm, Sandberg is again a baseball bottom feeder, back in the land of six-hour bus rides, two-star motels and jerseys with iron-on numbers.

Ryne Sandberg

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Until Jeff Kent came along, Sandberg’s 282 career home runs put him above every other second baseman who ever played the game.

It had been 26 years since Sandberg, a 20th-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1978, had bused between games. Back then, the stops included Helena, Mont.; Spartanburg, S.C.; and Reading, Pa. Now, the bus trips take him to places like Fort Wayne, Ind.; Clinton, Iowa; and Geneva, Ill. But his goals remain exactly the same: to prove he belongs. A different person
Ask his players about the day it clicked that Sandberg has what it takes to manage, and they almost unanimously point to May 6, the day he went toe-to-toe with plate umpire Bronson Martinez. That day, in the third inning of a game against the Fort Wayne Wizards, Martinez ejected Chiefs pitching coach David Rosario for arguing balls and strikes. Sandberg, equally irritated by Martinez’s tight strike zone, voiced his own displeasure. With Martinez inches from his face, Sandberg explained — colorfully — how his pitcher was being squeezed. Within seconds, he, too, was sent to the showers. But not before accidentally bumping into Martinez, a move that would result in a two-game suspension. He was no Phillip Wellman, the minor league manager who became a YouTube sensation last month for his rosin-bag-throwing meltdown. But considering the source, Sandberg’s histrionics were just as eye-opening. Once he retreated to the clubhouse, he called his wife, Margaret, back in Peoria. “I answer the phone, and I’m like, ‘What happened?'” Margaret says. “‘Why are you calling? Is the game over?’ And he’s chuckling. Then he tells me, ‘I just got ejected.’ “He almost sounded like he was proud of himself.” On the field that day, the Chiefs responded, turning a 4-3 deficit into a 10-4 victory. After the game, the players brought Sandberg into the clubhouse, where he was greeted with an ovation.

Ryne Sandberg

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Ryno’s career fielding percentage (.989 ) makes him second to none among second basemen.

“We kept wondering if he had it in him,” infielder Russ Canzler says. “Then all of the sudden, he saw something he didn’t like and he just ran out there and laid down the law. It was awesome.” Since that game in May, umpires have ejected Sandberg from three other games — once for arguing balls and strikes, once for what Sandberg says was a “not so close” play at first base and once for a checked swing Sandberg argued because he felt the umpire “had an attitude.” Each time, the Chiefs seemed to respond. After Sandberg was ejected from a game against Clinton on June 17, Peoria erased a seven-run eighth-inning deficit, only to lose to the Lumber Kings in 10 innings. “When I’m arguing, I’m competing,” Sandberg says. “I’m trying to win a game. And if that’s what’s called for, it’s just a reaction. I defend my players and coaches. And the guys seem to get a kick out of it. At this age, I guess they’re pretty easy to amuse.” Bumping into umpires and voicing his displeasure over bad calls is just one piece of a personality makeover many of Sandberg’s friends, family and former Cubs teammates have noticed over the last decade. Although Sandberg plays down the changes, he admits he feels more comfortable in his own skin and more confident with who he is these days. He’s also happy with both his personal and professional life. When Sandberg retired from the Cubs in 1994, it was a poorly kept secret that one of the reasons was his troubled marriage with his first wife. But since he married Margaret in 1995, Sandberg has been riding on cloud tops. “I’m just more comfortable with what I have to say and what I have to offer,” he says. “It’s been a process for me, but I’m getting there.”

Ryne and Margaret Sandberg

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Sandberg’s life took a dramatic upturn when he married Margaret in 1995.

To Sutcliffe, the change has been staggering. Besides all those quiet rides to the ballpark with his teammates, Sutcliffe remembers the day Sandberg came to his home to visit the pitcher after his shoulder surgery. He barely spoke. “I knew he was there to see me, but he couldn’t tell me that,” Sutcliffe says. “He had a hard time communicating.” Sutcliffe first noticed the change a few years ago, when Cubs President John McDonough asked Sandberg and him to speak for 20 minutes at a Cubs function. “I laughed out loud,” Sutcliffe remembers, “figuring if we were supposed to speak 20 minutes, 19-and-a-half would be me. But then he got up there and just wouldn’t stop. And I sat in awe. He was funny, entertaining. It was perfect. “He’s like a different person. His whole personality, everything has really come out. I don’t think he could possibly be any happier. And I couldn’t be happier for him.” Back to the big time
It was that Sandberg, the confident one, who picked up the phone this past winter after the Cubs fired Dusty Baker, calling general manager Jim Hendry to ask about the manager’s job. His only coaching experience was eight years as a Cubs spring training instructor, but he made the call anyway. “Jim explained that my lack of experience was a concern,” Sandberg says. “Which was understandable.” But shortly after he hired Piniella, Hendry offered Sandberg the manager’s job in Peoria, suggesting it was a good place to start. After mulling it over for a few days and talking about it with Margaret, he accepted.

Ryne Sandberg

AP Photo/Peoria Journal Star, Ron Johnson

In Peoria, they experience Sandberg-mania when Ryno takes the field.

“He accomplished everything you could possibly accomplish, but that was as a player,” says former Cubs teammate Doug Dascenzo, who manages the low-A Fort Wayne Wizards. “As a manager, it’s a whole different ballgame. If you go up [to the major leagues] messing around, you’re going to get your butt whipped. Ryno was smart enough to know that.” His first two months on the job haven’t been easy. Sandberg has had to relearn how to watch the game. Instead of just focusing on one player’s responsibilities on the field, he has to focus on all nine players. And the bench. The bullpen. The other team. And he has had to alter his expectations a bit, reminding himself that these 21- and 22-year-olds aren’t seasoned major league veterans but rather first-year pros fresh out of college or high school. He’s tried to teach his players everything from what pitches to look for in RBI situations to the right way to play catch before a game. After one road game, Sandberg, to whom fans flock like a Beatle each night, signed autographs for a half-hour in the rain while his players waited on the bus. Once Sandberg finally joined them, a player asked, “Why did you do that?” Said Sandberg: “Because it’s part of being a professional baseball player. Don’t ever take that for granted.” Put it all together and you have one of the up-and-coming young coaches in the Cubs organization. Although the Chiefs finished fifth in the first-half standings of the Midwest League’s eight-team Western Division with a 31-38 record — they’re 2-3 in the second half as of Tuesday — Cubs management already is praising Sandberg’s work. “The way he’s gone about this is everything you would assume from Ryne Sandberg based on that Hall of Fame speech,” says Oneri Fleita, the organization’s director of player development. “We think he’s doing great. I don’t know how much more you could ask for.” Where Sandberg’s new career takes him is anyone’s guess. Although the Hall of Famer won’t come out and say it himself, those around him insist he has but one goal: to become a major league manager. If history is a guide, that won’t be easy. The list of Hall of Famers who have made the jump from Cooperstown to a major league bench is a short one. Earlier this month, the Dodgers fired Eddie Murray as hitting coach. Robin Yount, Rod Carew and Wade Boggs all served stints as major league coaches, but they are no longer in the game. Neither is Paul Molitor, once the hitting coach in Seattle.

Ryne Sandberg

AP Photo/John Dunn

He made the Hall of Fame as a player in 2005. Now Sandberg has his sights set on managerial fame.

Then there are Gary Carter and Mike Schmidt, the only other Hall of Fame players believed to have followed up their enshrinement with a trip to Class A ball in hopes of climbing up the managerial ladder. Schmidt grew tired of the minor league lifestyle and is no longer in coaching. Carter reportedly is taking this year off after butting heads with the Mets organization about the direction of his managerial career. Neither made it beyond Class A. Sandberg knows their stories. He knows the odds are against him. But he doesn’t care. On this night, after an 8-6 loss to Burlington, Sandberg sits behind the brown desk in the beige manager’s office, wearing the look of someone who has just lost Game 7 of the World Series. His cheeks are red, his stare is blank and his words are few. He already is focusing on the next day’s lineup, the next day’s pitcher and the moves he needs to make to ensure this one loss doesn’t turn into two. Sure, Peoria is low-A. Sure, few of these players — if any — will make the major leagues. And sure, only a couple thousand fans showed up to watch. But Sandberg doesn’t care about any of that. He doesn’t like to lose. He’s still motivated by a fear of failure. He wakes up every morning hoping the day will end with his players surrounding him on the field, shaking hands after another victory. “I guess the thing that’s surprised me most is how much this has consumed me,” he says. “I think about it all the time — when I’m at the ballpark, when I’m at home with Margaret. I’m constantly thinking about lineups, strategies, where I can put guys. It just doesn’t get out of my head.” Perhaps it never will. Wayne Drehs is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at wayne.drehs@espn3.com.


Are the cubbies falling apart?


Bday Week…

This is the start of my bday week! My package arrived from my parents at work today and of course it is down-pouring! My bday is actually saturday the 9th, but I like to celebrate all week long. I opened the box but 2 of the presents are wrapped and they will sit and wait until saturday along w/ the cards. But I did get these really cool old skool cubbies pins from my dad that he got at an auction – one is from 1945 when the cubs went to the world series and another is from 1989 when the Cubs were the NL Eastern Division Champs there are 8 pins in total. Also some chocolates made in Atkins, Iowa – I shared them w/ my closest friends in the office and as always Peter was just absolutely amazed at the wonderful things that could come out of Iowa – who knew???

I have 2 bday parties this week (but of course) – one tomorrow nite w/ my coworkers and some other friends and one on saturday which is just relaxing on the beach and drinking w/ some good friends. I always invite my mom (even though she is in Iowa) just to include her and here was her response to my evites:

“Well now…it hurts me to think of that day almost 29 years ago. I’m not
sure if the birth was more or less painful than the raising of Karin :>)
Oh wait, I’m not sure I’ve finished that task. I am fairly certain
that I’m the only one on this list that has known Karin externally for
almost 29 years and internally for 10 months longer than that. Guess I’m
rambling but did any of you know that
Karin was 4 weeks over due (no there weren’t any miscalculations). Maybe
this explains some things about her. Hehehe!
Karin forgive me for not being able to commit to joining you on the
roof. I’m sure your friends will celebrate with you just as well as I
would have. I’ll try for the Greece trip at the 30th.
A package will be sent tomorrow.
I LOVE YOU my special person.”

Also, my mom has some words of advice for anyone in particular – “The best way to maybe possibly potentially even remotely try to figure Karin out, is to stop trying to figure her out.”

ONWARD w/ the BDAY drinking!!!

Oh and of course it was down-pouring today and is supposed to tomorrow because it ALWAYS rains when I have a bday party! ALWAYS!