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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Cubs are living to regret Craig Kimbrel’s $43 million contract

Over his first nine seasons in Major League Baseball, no moment seemed too big for Craig Kimbrel.

The flame-throwing closer dominated in stints with the Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox, racking up 333 saves, 868 strikeouts and seven All-Star appearances.

It’s been a different story in 2019.

The now 31-year-old veteran hasn’t just looked human on the hill. He’s looked overwhelmed. As if there were no answers as to why his dominance has disappeared after signing a three-year, $43 million contract with the Chicago Cubs back in May.

Is it just me, or does that title have somewhat unfortunate implications?

 

QLE Posted: September 22, 2019 at 12:18 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: contracts, craig kimbrel, cubs

Friday, September 20, 2019


Anthony Rizzo made a dramatic return, the Cubs rallied in the ninth and they still lost … again – The Athletic

Surprise return for Rizzo. Does Theo blow up this team if they fail to make the playoffs?

Jim Furtado Posted: September 20, 2019 at 09:24 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: anthony rizzo, cubs

Friday, September 13, 2019

Theo Epstein speaks for all Cubs fans as he sums up the frustrating season to date

If you were listening to 670 The Score Thursday morning, nobody would blame you if you confused Theo Epstein for a random Cubs fan.

But that wasn’t Bob from Berwyn chatting with David Haugh and Mike Mulligan about the infuriating 2019 season the Cubs have played to date — it was the president of baseball operations for the club, who told it like it is and pulled no punches.

Like usual, Epstein was measured in his response, but his frustration was palpable, as he explained how there are simply no excuses for the way the Cubs have played this year and especially lately.

He did not point to the recent string of injuries as a reason or use any other potential excuse in the books to explain away the fact that this team woke up Thursday morning tied with the Milwaukee Brewers for the second Wild-Card spot.

On the bright side, there’s now an opening in Boston…..

QLE Posted: September 13, 2019 at 12:24 AM | 44 comment(s)
  Beats: broadcasts, cubs, theo epstein

Friday, September 06, 2019

‘It’s My One Claim to Fame’: The Untold Story of the Cubs’ Black Cat Jinx

Fifty years ago this upcoming Monday—Sept. 9, 1969—the Chicago Cubs were clinging to a small but diminishing lead over the New York Mets in the National League East. The two teams were facing each other at Shea Stadium in New York, with their respective aces on the mound—Ferguson Jenkins for the Cubs and Tom Seaver for the Mets. And then, in top of the fourth, something bizarre happened that has become part of baseball lore: A black cat appeared in front of the Cubs dugout and pranced back and forth a few times before disappearing into the bowels of the ballpark.

The Mets went on to win the game, the pennant and the World Series. Meanwhile, the Black Cat Incident, as it was dubbed, became another chapter in the Cubs’ long-running history of misery, with the ebony feline—a notorious symbol of bad luck, of course—blamed for jinxing the team. Countless articles have been written about the incident, coupled with photographs documenting what unfolded 50 years ago this month.

Most photos of the incident show the cat approaching Chicago’s dugout while being eyed by Cubs third baseman Ron Santo, who was in the on-deck circle. Therefore most accounts of the game, understandably, have featured recollections from Santo, Jenkins or other Cubs players who were in the dugout. This one, though, is different.

Take a closer look at the scene and you’ll notice another person in a Cubs uniform standing off to Santo’s side. That was the batboy. Like most batboys, he was anonymous, overlooked and forgotten. His name is Jim Flood, and the improbable story of how he ended up in the catbird seat for one of the most storied moments in baseball history has never been told—until now.

As a cat lover, it seems a deeply unfair call to me.

QLE Posted: September 06, 2019 at 11:53 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cats, cubs, jinx

Inconsistent Cubs Need Uninterrupted Success Soon to Avoid Disappointing Finish

As they go up, they go down. That’s been the Cubs in the second half, ping-ponging between realistic World Series contender and disappointment, between NL Central champion and the precarious position of facing Max Scherzer in a do-or-die playoff game on the road. And for every step forward that Chicago seems to take, it promptly whirls around and walks right back to the start. Thursday’s about-face: a win over Milwaukee, the team’s third in a row, tempered by the news that closer Craig Kimbrel is headed to the injured list with right elbow inflammation.

A month ago, it was the Cubs holding a modest lead over the Cardinals and Brewers, with a high-water mark of 3 1/2 games on St. Louis in the division as of Aug. 8. The Cardinals have gone 21–6 since that date, though, erasing a gap that had persisted throughout the summer. Where once Chicago was the favorite to claim the Central crown, St. Louis now holds the better odds and a 2 1/2-game lead with just three weeks left in the season.

The saving grace for the Cubs is that, while their schedule grows shorter, it still offers plenty of opportunities to make up the deficit—in particular, seven games left against the Cardinals, all coming in the last week-plus of September. Between the first of those meetings (a four-game series at Wrigley Field starting on the 19th) and now, though, Chicago needs to keep it together, and that’s been the hard part. The Cubs continually give off the impression of a Formula 1 car with a cinder block dragging behind it, unable to get up to speed, or like one that, just as it reaches triple digits in miles per hour, has a wheel come flying off.

Either way, the Cubs have struggled to hold what ground they’ve gained, as the lineup, rotation and bullpen all refuse to click together. August saw Jose Quintana post a 2.02 ERA in 35 2/3 innings and Yu Darvish strike out 42 against a single walk; it also featured Kyle Hendricks, Cole Hamels and Jon Lester all putting up ERAs of 5.20 or worse. Offensively, Nick Castellanos has done his best “2017 J.D. Martinez on the Diamondbacks” impression—just as Javy Baez has fallen into a deep funk (.211/.265/.355 since Aug. 8). Even injury replacements come with karmic balancing: Just as Willson Contreras returns from a month-long IL stint (and picked up four hits against the Brewers), Kris Bryant sees his production sapped by a recurring knee problem that’s held him to a .182 batting average in his last 12 games.

Does this mean that all the hype about their building a dynasty and in praise of their methods was naught but a hollow lie?

 

QLE Posted: September 06, 2019 at 07:17 AM | 49 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

September Storylines to Follow as MLB’s Stretch Run Begins

If players are defined by what they do in October, their fates are often sealed in September. This is the month that makes postseason success possible. Divisions will be won, wild-card berths will be secured and MVP races will be decided. Here are the top storylines to follow as summer turns to fall.

1. The Last Division Race Standing

The NL Central was expected to be a three-team race all season, as the Cardinals, Cubs and Brewers expected to be in contention for the division title. St. Louis has been surging in the second half, when Paul Goldschmidt got hot and Jack Flaherty and Dakota Hudson emerged as a strong one-two rotation duo. Entering play Monday, the Cardinals (76-60) are three games ahead of Chicago in the division after winning eight of their last 10.

The Cubs (73-63), who hold a 2 1/2-game lead for the second wild-card, have been wildly inconsistent for much of the season. Their last three series (nine games) are the perfect example: They got swept at home by the Nationals, then swept the Mets at Citi Field before returning home to Wrigley Field and dropping two of three against Milwaukee. Offensive consistency has been a problem, as has an overworked bullpen with a less-effective Craig Kimbrel as the closer. Chicago is ultra talented, with a lineup anchored by a handful of all-stars. The Cubs are more than capable of rivaling the Cardinals for the division title, making the NL Central a worthy narrative to follow the rest of the way.

So, do we agree with these claims, or are there other stories that could emerge between now and the end of the regular season?


Sunday, September 01, 2019

Cubs activate Zobrist off restricted list following divorce

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs have activated Ben Zobrist from the restricted list to help with their postseason push.

The 38-year-old Zobrist has been out since May 8 while going through a divorce. The 2016 World Series MVP is batting .241 with 10 RBIs in 26 games this year.

Question, for those who may have been keeping tabs on such matters: How common is it to use the restricted list, for these matters or otherwise?

 

QLE Posted: September 01, 2019 at 03:45 AM | 37 comment(s)
  Beats: ben zobrist, cubs

Friday, August 30, 2019

LEADING OFF: Wild-card hopefuls set for key weekend series

STILL FIGHTING

The Rays got themselves off the ropes by rallying late to beat Houston on Thursday night, ending a four-game skid. Now the AL wild-card hopefuls open a pivotal three-game home series against Cleveland. The Indians are 2 1/2 games ahead of Tampa Bay for the top wild-card spot, with Oakland one game ahead for the Rays for the second. All-Star Game MVP Shane Bieber (12-6, 3.23) is set to pitch or Cleveland against RHP Austin Pruitt (2-0, 5.57).

PULLING AWAY?

The Cubs host the Brewers hoping to bury another NL wild-card competitor after sweeping the Mets over three games this week. Chicago pulled five games ahead of New York for the second wild card and is four games ahead of Milwaukee. LHP Jose Quintana (11-8, 4.05) will start for the Cubs in the matinee against RHP Chase Anderson (6-3, 4.34).

This competition is not just in the majors- in Triple-A baseball, many playoff spots are still in contention with only a few games left in the season.

QLE Posted: August 30, 2019 at 05:23 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: aristides aquino, athletics, brewers, cubs, indians, rays, yankees

LEADING OFF: Wild-card hopefuls set for key weekend series

STILL FIGHTING

The Rays got themselves off the ropes by rallying late to beat Houston on Thursday night, ending a four-game skid. Now the AL wild-card hopefuls open a pivotal three-game home series against Cleveland. The Indians are 2 1/2 games ahead of Tampa Bay for the top wild-card spot, with Oakland one game ahead for the Rays for the second. All-Star Game MVP Shane Bieber (12-6, 3.23) is set to pitch or Cleveland against RHP Austin Pruitt (2-0, 5.57).

PULLING AWAY?

The Cubs host the Brewers hoping to bury another NL wild-card competitor after sweeping the Mets over three games this week. Chicago pulled five games ahead of New York for the second wild card and is four games ahead of Milwaukee. LHP Jose Quintana (11-8, 4.05) will start for the Cubs in the matinee against RHP Chase Anderson (6-3, 4.34).

Similarly, Triple-A is starting its last homestands of the season, and there’s still competition in both the PCL and the International League to enter their playoffs.

QLE Posted: August 30, 2019 at 05:15 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: aristides aquino, athletics, brewers, cubs, indians, rays, yankees

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

LEADING OFF: Verlander vs Morton, Cubs and Mets get wild

PAIR OF ACES

Former teammates and 2019 All-Stars square off in a prime pitching matchup when Charlie Morton (13-5, 2.85 ERA) and the Rays face Justin Verlander (15-5, 2.77) in Houston. With the Rays locked in a close wild-card race and the Astros leading the AL West, it’s a potential October preview. Verlander, first in the majors with 239 strikeouts, fanned 11 last time out and went the distance on a two-hitter in a 2-1 loss to Detroit. He has seven straight double-digit strikeout games. Morton spent the past two years with the Astros and helped them win the 2017 World Series.

WILD IN THE CITI

Kyle Schwarber and the Cubs visit the Mets in the opener of a pivotal three-game series at Citi Field. New York trails Chicago by two games for the second NL wild card. Both teams were off Monday after getting swept at home last weekend — the Mets by Atlanta, the Cubs by Washington. Chicago hopes to have Anthony Rizzo back in the lineup. The first baseman left Saturday’s game with tightness in his back and sat out Sunday. Yu Darvish (4-6, 4.43 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for the Cubs against Marcus Stroman (7-11, 3.18), who exited his previous start with left hamstring tightness.

Last I heard, Teams Gone Wild was only available in the sleazier parts of town- and, even then, only in a brown paper bag and on a cash-only basis.

QLE Posted: August 27, 2019 at 06:04 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: charlie morton, cubs, justin verlander, lucas giolito, masahiro tanaka, mets, yusei kikuchi

Friday, August 23, 2019

LEADING OFF: Players get creative, Yanks at Dodger Stadium

NAME THAT NICKNAME

Jerseys will take on a different look during Players’ Weekend, when big leaguers are encouraged to be creative with what goes on the back of their uniforms.

Cleveland outfielder Yasiel Puig will have Wild Horse, for the way he charges around the bases. Rays pitcher Charlie Morton will use Ground Chuck, for how he induces grounders. Reds first baseman Joey Votto will go with Who — for the “Abbott and Costello” comedy routine of “Who’s on First?”

Rockies pitcher Chad Bettis is skipping letters and going with an emoji — of lettuce, to rhyme with his last name.

Yes, folks, it’s time for this again…..

 

QLE Posted: August 23, 2019 at 03:24 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, dodgers, francisco cervelli, nicknames, players weekend

Monday, August 19, 2019

Little League World Series 2019: Cubs players go sledding with kids in Williamsport ahead of matchup with Pirates

The Chicago Cubs are having fun during their trip to the Little League World Series this year and went sledding on Sunday with some of the kids at the tournament.

While there is obviously no snow in Pennsylvania in August, the teams got creative and used pieces of large cardboard to slide down a hill behind BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field, where the Cubs take on the Pirates in the MLB Little League Classic. Cubs players, along with manager Joe Maddon, are seen with childish grins on their faces looking like they are reliving their youth.

At least it wasn’t using burlap sacks on hot metal slides, which is the closest I came to sledding as a kid….

 

QLE Posted: August 19, 2019 at 07:43 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, llws

Monday, August 12, 2019

Joe Maddon believes he will be with Cubs ‘for a couple more years at least’

Joe Maddon’s contract is up at the end of the year and his future has been an underlying storyline all Cubs season.

Before Sunday’s game at the Reds, Maddon addressed questions from reporters on the topic. He seems to think he will be back, saying optimism is very high on his end.

“I believe we’ll be together for a couple more years at least,” Maddon said in an article in the Chicago Tribune.

The Cubs are currently in first place in the NL Central, but the playoff race is very tight. The Brewers and Cardinals are within striking distance and the NL Wild Card race is littered with several teams.

Of course, this is all dependent on whether or not he stays on Theo Epstein’s good side, as the man he beat to win the World Series can amply testify…

 

QLE Posted: August 12, 2019 at 08:18 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, joe maddon, manager

Saturday, August 10, 2019

MLB unveils ‘Cubbies’ and ‘The Burgh’ uniforms for 2019 Little League Classic

The Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates are getting a one day makeover at the end of August. On Friday, MLB unveiled new “Cubbies” and “The Burgh” uniforms that both teams will wear during the 2019 Little League Classic.

The jerseys will feature a color stripe across the chest with the team’s nickname for that day. The Cubs’ jerseys feature a blue stripe with lettering that reads “Cubbies.” The Pirates jerseys have a yellow stripe with lettering that reads “The Burgh.”

This is a departure from how Major League Baseball has handled the game in the past. In previous seasons, teams participating in the Little League Classic wore their colorful Players’ Weekend uniforms during the game.

This year, MLB decided to go with all-white and all-black uniforms for Players’ Weekend. The league decided to keep some color in the Little League Classic uniforms.

It is just me, or does this feel vaguely patronizing to anyone else?

 

QLE Posted: August 10, 2019 at 08:18 AM | 37 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, little league, pirates, uniforms

Monday, July 22, 2019

Montgomery traded, but place in Cubs history secure

It took 108 years for the Cubs to end their championship drought, so the final play of that 2016 World Series won’t be forgotten any time soon.

Mike Montgomery, who at that point had no saves in his big league career, got Michael Martinez to hit a weak grounder for the last out of Game 7 in Cleveland. Chicago won 8-7 in 10 innings.

Montgomery was traded to Kansas City this past week in a deal that sent Martin Maldonado to the Cubs, closing the book on the left-hander’s stint in Chicago. Although he hasn’t had a very effective 2019 season, Montgomery’s place in Cubs lore is secure because of his contribution to the title team.

Brian Wilson begs to differ….

 

QLE Posted: July 22, 2019 at 03:56 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, mike montgomery, trades

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The NL Central Race Could Be the Tightest in MLB History

The 1994 AL West is an infamous division in baseball history; the Rangers led with a 52-62 record that would convert to a 74-88 mark over a full year. But that season ended early due to the players’ strike, so the division’s placement atop this list comes with a large asterisk. That leaves the 2005 NL East as the closest division of the last half-century. The Braves won 90 games to claim the NL East that year, the last of Atlanta’s 11 consecutive division titles, while the Nationals brought up the rear with a respectable 81-81 record in their first season in Washington. Discounting the 1994 strike year, the 2005 Nationals are the only last-place team in MLB history to finish within single digits of the division winner.


That example adds a note of caution: Even if the NL Central’s overall spread remains this proximate, it’s not guaranteed to provide a dramatic late-season race. The whole 2005 NL East was close, but not exactly thrilling at the top; Atlanta led by at least four games every day in September. But the 2019 NL Central could also go the route of another close division: the 1973 NL East, where four different teams either led the division or drew within a game of the top in September, with the Mets winning despite sitting in last place as late as August 30 and not holding sole possession of first place all season until September 21.

So the 2019 NL Central looks like one of the closest top-to-bottom divisions in MLB history, which could set the stage for a spectacular September stretch run.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 17, 2019 at 06:20 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

“I Got Lucky Man” Dennis Eckersley on Surviving His Tough Times

Then on March 30, 1978, near the end of spring training, Eckersley was traded to the Red Sox along with catcher Fred Kendall for an assortment of four players, none of whom wound up altering the Indians’ fortunes.

The same day, his wife Denise, whom he’d married when they were both 18 and with whom he had an infant daughter, Mandee, told him she wanted a divorce. A few months later she told him she wanted to marry his best friend, Indians center fielder Rick Manning….

During a Red Sox-Indians game earlier this season, I saw Eckersley behind the Fenway Park press box gathering intelligence on the Indians from one of the team’s broadcasters. The other guy looked familiar, an ex-ballplayer for sure, a face from a baseball card long since lost. I turned the corner to leave the press box, and then it hit me who it was: Rick Manning.

I mentioned it to Eckersley a few weeks later, after he had brought up the affair between his first wife and his best friend, and the heartbreak and sadness that led to him being traded to the Red Sox. “He’s the father to my daughter,” says Eckersley. “I mean, it’s been 40 years. It’s not about forgiveness. It’s about moving on with your life and living it. We were all young. I was on the road half the time, and I was hardly innocent myself, and suddenly you come home and you’re not that attractive anymore. It was an ugly way to have it happen. It was painful as hell.” He pauses, then says, “[We have] a daughter together. I’ve got to be nice.”

Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: July 16, 2019 at 10:08 PM | 41 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, broadcasters, cubs, hall of fame, red sox

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Braves turn double play without ball in play | MLB.com

Some bad baserunning on this play.

 

Jim Furtado Posted: June 26, 2019 at 08:16 AM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Kenley Jansen executed a rare intentional balk last night

Last night, Kenley Jansen recorded a save against the Cubs in a 5-3 win for the Dodgers. He surrendered a baserunner on a Matt Beaty error but otherwise was dominant and he struck out three.

Before the final strikeout, however, he did something I hadn’t seen before. With Jason Heyward on second apparently annoying him, Kenley intentionally balked him to third so he could just focus on the batter and/or to prevent Heyward for relaying pitch and/or location to Victor Caratini.

He yells out “I’m going to balk”.

I’ve never seen such a thing. Have you?


Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Report: Cubs have agreement with Kimbrel

The Cubs are in agreement with free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel on a deal, pending the completion of a physical, sources told MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal on Wednesday night. The club has not confirmed the news.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 05, 2019 at 08:47 PM | 32 comment(s)
  Beats: craig kimbrel, cubs

Thursday, May 30, 2019

APNewsBreak: Cubs-Cards set for London on June 13-14 in 2020

NEW YORK (AP) — The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals are set to play at London next season in a two-game series at West Ham’s Olympic Stadium on June 13 and 14.

St. Louis will be the home team for both games, according to a draft of the 2020 preliminary schedule obtained by The Associated Press.

Chicago will be at Philadelphia from June 8-10, then has a pair of off days. The Cubs will be off June 15 and then start a homestand at Wrigley Field against the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox.

“I’ve had experience traveling over there and the time difference is pretty dramatic, especially when you go that way,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday. “When you come back, you’re always able to catch up, when you’re going back in time as opposed to forward in time. I don’t even know what to expect in something like that. You know your head’s going to be swimming a little bit, you’ve got that brain fog, you just do.”

My advance apology to all Londoners for subjecting you to the Cardinals, much less as a home team….

 

QLE Posted: May 30, 2019 at 10:23 AM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, cubs, london, neutral site games

MLB roundup: Cubs’ win over Astros marred by fan’s injury

Kyle Hendricks pitched eight effective innings, Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant homered, and the visiting Chicago Cubs averted a series sweep at the hands of the Houston Astros with a 2-1 interleague victory Wednesday.

The game was briefly delayed in the fourth inning when Chicago’s Albert Almora Jr. hit a foul ball that struck a young fan in the stands. The Astros confirmed after the game that the child was taken to a hospital, but according to Houston radio station KBME 790 AM (SportsTalk790), the fan was expected to be all right.

The incident shook up Almora, who struck out to finish the at-bat. After the half-inning, he was seen sobbing after talking to a security guard stationed near where the child was seated.

Hendricks (5-4) allowed one run on four hits and one walk with seven strikeouts while throwing a season-high 108 pitches.

 

QLE Posted: May 30, 2019 at 10:23 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: albert almora, astros, cubs, fans hit by projectiles

Monday, May 27, 2019

Former Red Sox, Cubs Great All-Star Bill Buckner Dies at 69

Buckner, who played first base and outfield, played 22 seasons in the major leagues. He appeared with the Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox, Angels and Royals.

In 1980, Buckner won the NL batting title, and in 1981, he earned his lone All-Star appearance while a member of the Cubs.

I didn’t realize he’d been in such ill health. RIP Billy Buck.

SoSH U at work Posted: May 27, 2019 at 02:56 PM | 88 comment(s)
  Beats: angels, cubs, dodgers, red sox, royals

Monday, May 20, 2019

Javier Baez injures his right heel as the Cubs hold off the Nationals 6-5 - Chicago Tribune

Manager Joe Maddon and Baez, who has started in all 44 of the Cubs’ games at shortstop, said he could return as soon as Monday night’s game against the Phillies at Wrigley Field.

“As of right now, I’d imagine that he can,” Maddon said. “But I want to double check.”

Said Baez: “I’m good.”

“It was right before I caught it,” Baez said. “I didn’t twist it. I just went too hard to the ground. My heel kind of got jammed a little bit. All good. It depends on how it goes (Sunday night), and I want to play (Monday). Joe is going to decide whether I play or give me a day. But I hope I don’t need it. I’ll be playing (Monday), hopefully.”

Baez, who had played 395 2/3 consecutive innings at shortstop to start the season, said the heel began to throb after he made a sweeping tag on Gerardo Parra at second base in the fifth.

Jim Furtado Posted: May 20, 2019 at 09:10 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, javier baez

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